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Convention, Convocation, Conference & Me

April 8, 2011

To date, I’ve never been to a con, before.  I always figured, things being what they are, that they’d be a bit out of reach for me: the cost of attendance, travel-time, possibly time off of work as they usually spill over from the weekend on Fridays or Mondays.  Plus, of course, time away from the family.  So, honestly… while I know the potential value of going to conventions (Or does “con” stand for “conference”?  “Convocation”?  Whatever, you know what I mean.) I’d almost written off my ability to go to them, at least in the near-term.  Someday, I figured, I’d go to them, but it wouldn’t be soon.  I hadn’t even mentioned the possibility to Dear Wife.

Well, I’m graduating soon, aren’t I, and it is a time of festivity! 

Still, imagine my surprise when Dear Wife decides to give me, as a gift, attendance at an upcoming convention!  I was so flabbergasted that, well, my excited face didn’t work right.

So, a week from today, I’ll be attending JordanCon, my first convention, ever.  (Well, almost ever, but I don’t count that little one with about 15 attendees in 2003 back in the small town I lived in before moving to the city.  They tried, bless their hearts, they really did.  They took advice from those of us who came, but I don’t think they ever held another one.)

JordanCon has several advantages for me.  It’s relatively local, in that I live in the general regional neighborhood of the host city.  It’s dedicated to the late Robert Jordan, the author of one of my favorite fantasy series. It will have as a guest Brandon Sanderson, one of my new favorite authors, who is finishing Jordan’s Wheel of Time.  And this year they’re bringing a group of regional genre authors, including David Coe, Eugie Foster, and several others.

Of course, I plan on attending the “Writer’s Track”.  I do wish I had a current WIP to share during the peer-review session, but I’m nowhere near ready to share anything yet – and with only a week left to get something ready and plenty of school work between now and then, I’m unlikely to find the time to prepare anything.  (My Secret Project isn’t appropriate material for this venue; I have contemplated bringing in my semi-trunked “PFTETD” novelette, and may decide to do just that, but I’m not sure that would be useful simply because I’m not sure how much better I can really make it if at all, but at the same time I don’t want to miss out.)  But I do plan to pitch “Book of M” during the 30-second book pitch event.  Since that’s only a few sentences, I’m confident I can find the time for that.

So, I’m excited.  I’m hopeful that this will be the beginning of even more great writing relationships, and an opportunity to further hone my skills and prepare for an eventual career.

So, having never been to a convention, it’s time to turn it over to you guys.  Have any of you ever been?  Care to share some of your experiences?  Any advice for a first-time con-goer?

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2011 3:06 pm

    Dear Wife sure knows how to give good gifts!

    I went to a comic con once, and only for a day. I browsed comics, and toys, but was too shy to go talk to writers and artists, and didn’t get a full experience out of it. I’ve talked about my writer’s conference experience, and looking back from now, I can tell you it was well worth it: a leap up to the next level in terms of writing process. If you pitch, just don’t mention that the story’s not written yet, and be prepared to answer questions. 😉

    • April 8, 2011 3:12 pm

      I’ll have to go reread your report. 🙂 The pitch, I think is a contest – it’s not to an actual agent, I don’t believe, but rather to the gathered group of guests (i.e. author Brandon Sanderson is on the schedule for this event, but I don’t know who else will be there). But I’ll definitely read up on your thoughts on pitching, from your experience. Thanks!

    • April 8, 2011 3:56 pm

      And yes, Dear Wife is very good with gift-giving. 😀

  2. April 9, 2011 5:09 pm

    I’ve never been to a convention/conference/writer hobnobbing event. Not that I haven’t heard all the buzz, but I’m dubious about the usefulness of them. I’ll be interested to hear your conclusions after JordanCon.

    • April 10, 2011 9:45 pm

      I’ve heard a lot about the potential usefulness of these sorts of events over the past few years. Primarily that seems to come in the form of industry contacts and closer friendships with other writers based on actually having the chance to meet many of them. That said, I understand this mostly in the context of the speculative fiction side of the industry. I have no idea whether this holds true for other genres. For that matter, I’m not even familiar with conventions and conferences for non-speculative genres, which is not to say they don’t exist, but they’re outside my area of awareness. I will definitely report on my experiences at JordanCon – though for certain it won’t be “live”…

  3. April 9, 2011 9:00 pm

    Sounds like JordanCon will help you to take your writing to the next level, Stephen! What an awesome wifey you have! Congratulations and please post pictures and a review!

    • April 10, 2011 9:49 pm

      It certainly can’t hurt! I hadn’t thought about taking pictures; I’ll have to remember to bring my camera! Thanks for the idea.

  4. April 11, 2011 11:39 pm

    If it isn’t conflicting with other things that you could do, I would recommend bringing your “PFTETD” story. Not because you expect to make it better but because you might learn something going through the process either a skill you want to work on in future stories, or something that strikes you when discussing other writers stories.

    • April 12, 2011 8:38 am

      Thanks. I’ve been considering doing just that – for similar reasons. I don’t have any other WIP at the moment (writing time has been scarce lately), but I really want to participate in the peer review session. So, I’ve been feeling like I would probably rather workshop that story than nothing at all.

  5. April 13, 2011 8:31 pm

    I have never been to a con, but had a near miss with the the World Horror Con in 1998. I am quite interested in what your experience will be. I look forward to your report. I suggest you Google “how to make the most of writing conferences” and look for a few good tip sheets about how to maximize your time.

    The last thing you’d want to do with this rare treat is to come home with regrets of what you didn’t accomplish. In other words, before you go set some clear goals of what you want out your time and make it happen.

    • April 14, 2011 9:11 am

      That’s a good suggestion to set some goals. Any goals I set will likely be about what, specifically, I want to learn for starters. I’d also like to be able to say I met a certain number of local writers.

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