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Dragon*Con, Decatur Book Festival and Parade Pics

September 7, 2011

This weekend I almost went to my second-ever Con.  I was all mentally-prepared to go.  I assumed that was my plan for the long weekend.  What a great chance to exercise my writerly-networking skills, right?

And then Dear Wife asked a couple leading questions: not saying I shouldn’t go but asking what I was going to do when I went…  Which got me thinking: what would I do if I went to Dragon*Con this weekend?

The 2011 Dragon*Con Parade

The start of the 2011 Dragon*Con Parade

Dragon*Con seemed like a no-brainer.  It is a major convention in a reasonable proximity to where I actually live.  Lots of major editors, authors, agents, and pop-culture F&SF heroes would be there.  What’s not to love?  Except the sticker shock.  (A weekend pass costs how much? I sputtered.  And a day pass isn’t exactly cheap, either.  I know major theme parks that cost a lot less for a few day’s fun.)  But what really got me thinking was my lack of a real plan.  Sure some authors and other luminaries would be there.  But did I know who those were?  How would meeting them, if I knew who they were, benefit my writing career?  What was the point of meeting them?

In fact, I had answers to none of these questions.  So what if I met an editor or agent at the con?  That’s assuming I even knew of any specific editors or agents at the con and where I could find them to meet them.  I don’t have a book finished, so I can’t sell them anything.  I don’t have any major short story publications, so I can’t point to anything I’ve done.  I’ve got nothing by which they will even be able to remember they met me.  At this stage in my development as a writer, I realized, it was an exercise in futility.

There was the possibility that I could attend the writer’s panel track and learn something about the craft of writing – except I’m slowly finding that after a decade of absorbing generic writing advice there isn’t much that’s news to me.  I’ve mostly heard all these things before.  I still appreciate getting those lessons refreshed, periodically, but I can do that for a lot less than the ticket-price at a major convention.  On balance, I realized, Dragon*Con was turning into a somewhat over-priced F&SF-flavored theme-park ride.  Under my immediate circumstances, it just wasn’t an expense I could presently afford or rationalize.

Instead, I attended a couple panels at the nearby Decatur Book Festival.  Those were free, but generally much less genre-specific.  I didn’t learn terribly much (though one panel on writing Teenage Protagonists for Adult Fiction made me think about one aspect of my current novel-WIP, “The Book of M” that could make a decent-sized impact on the main character, at least with regard to one specific aspect).  But then, those panels weren’t designed as “learn about writing” panels so much as “learn about this author’s work” panels.

The Decatur Book Festival, as it turns out, is really a lot like your standard-issue Artist’s Market (if you’ve never been to an Artist’s Market, you’re missing out: Dear Wife and I enjoy strolling through Artist’s Markets even when we know there’s nothing in the budget to buy any art; I believe most big cities have at least one or more regular annual festivals that feature Artist’s Markets, if you’re interested) – except the DBF is an Artist’s Market devoted to books and writing.  So you’ve got booths that are essentially mobile used book stores, you’ve got booths that are local authors setting up shop with their books and doing signings, you’ve got self-published authors, you’ve got self-publishing services, and you’ve got local craftsmen hawking book-related wares like handsome leather-bound journals.  It was all very uplifting to see, as a lover of books.

Somewhere in all of this… there’s a more thoughtful and introspective post about the value of attending Cons and learning the craft and networking and so on.  But a few things are preventing me from writing that more thoughtful post: (1) that would take some time, wouldn’t it? (2) and it would help if I had a little more experience on these topics to share, I suppose, and (3) the real purpose of this post, right this minute, was to share some pictures from the Dragon*Con parade.

This was the first time I’d attended the Dragon*Con parade (odd when you think about it; I’ve lived close enough for several years and I’m a huge nerd).  It was also B.T.’s first such parade.

So yeah, that was a long preamble to wade through to get to some awesome pics of the parade.  What’re you gonna do?

Here are the pics:

The Alien

The Alien in pursuit of a corps of Space Marines

Hagrid

Harry Potter's friendly half-giant friend Hagrid, groundskeeper at Hogwart's

Darth Vader

Lord Vader greets some ardent supporters of the Empire

The Princess Bride

Princess Buttercup with the King and the Albino and the giant Fezzik carrying The Man in Black a/k/a Dread Pirate Roberts a/k/a Westley

Back to the Future

A DeLorean retrofitted with a time-travel device has come to take us back to the Future

Anime Characters

Several anime characters, including (from the anime Inuyasha) Inuyasha's brother Seshomorou (right) and presumably Inuyasha's dad (center) but curiously not Inuyasha himself. Also what I believe is a Soul Reaper from Bleach, most probably Rukia (left)

The Periodic Table of the Elements

The Periodic Table of the Elements

Steampunks

An Airship escorted by by a crew of Steampunks

Steampunk X-Men & Steampunk Wolverine

Steampunk Wolverine. Yes. You read that right. I also see a Steampunk Cyclops and a Steampunk Magneto, but I don't recognize which the other Steampunk X-Men are...

Darth Santa Claus

Darth.... Santa Claus? Some things defy explanation...

Storm Troopers from the 501st

Storm Troopers, I believe from the 501st Legion, make the grand finale

More (soo much more) at the Flickr Set… which sadly is only about half of the pics I and Dear Wife took during the parade.  (And even then our pics missed a few really cool things.)

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2011 4:39 pm

    That looks AWESOME.

  2. September 7, 2011 6:20 pm

    Darth Santa Claus? LOL Great photos 😉

    • September 8, 2011 11:23 am

      I just don’t know what else to call it. A guy in a Santa Suit with a black cloak and hood and lightsabers… what would you say?

  3. September 7, 2011 7:51 pm

    The parade, at least, sounds and looks pretty darn cool. Storm troopers? I mean really, say no more.

    You know, with the Steampunk X-men, though, I would have never guessed they were X-men just looking at their costumes, lol. I’m guess their theme was on the banner that’s cut off?

    • September 8, 2011 11:33 am

      Yeah, the Steampunk X-Men banner is clearer in another photo I didn’t include here on the blog, but which is on the Flickr stream. (More X-men can be see in that pic, too.) The parade was definitely fun. Long (we expected it to last less than an hour, but in fact it was an hour-and-a-half), but fun.

  4. September 9, 2011 11:11 am

    So cool! I think you made the right decision to save your money. I’ve been struggling with the same conundrum, wanting to get my stuff out there and meet editors and agents but I don’t have a completed project yet, so it probably won’t do me any good.

    At lease you got to see the parade though!! That must have been so much fun 🙂

    • September 9, 2011 1:52 pm

      Thanks. It’s kind of a nasty catch-22 for writers. The best chances of getting published involve meeting and schmoozing with editors and agents at these painfully expensive cons. (I hear Worldcon and World Fantasy are actually some of the best places if you’re aiming at a speculative fiction market, better than most others, but they’re a double-whammy as they’re expensive and they’re globetrotting, and you never know when they’ll be in a neighborhood near you.) But when you’re not yet making any money from your writing career, it can be difficult to justify spending that kind of money on what’s realistically still a long-shot. I’ve heard it likened unto “investing in your career”… but that only works if you’ve got a good expectation at a return on that investment, and in the writing world, you don’t really have that. It’s really more like an expensive gamble. Except you get to have fun along the way (presuming Cons are as fun as everyone says they are). (Okay, I realize some people enjoy regular-old-fashioned gamling for fun, but it never struck me as terribly enjoyable passtime.) But yes, the parade was a funtastic guilty pleasure. I felt like such a big nerd being able to identify several obscure nerd-things in the parade, and feeling like a big nerd always makes me feel warm inside. 🙂

  5. October 4, 2011 11:13 am

    Neat pictures. I don’t have much to say on the Cons. I’ve attended a local con, but nothing larger (I’d considered WorldCon or World Fantasy Con, but decided for similar reasons that you list not to attend). The local con resulted in me making connections with a local writing group/critique group and through that I’ve also gotten the chance to meet an author of the short story hugo nominees. (But it’s a small conference so significantly lower cost.)

    • October 4, 2011 11:44 am

      Yeah, in the short-term, I suspect I’ll only be able to do small cons, when I can do any at all. When you’re a starving writer (or even when you’re not the starving part, but have a family and a day-job and committments and so on), the time and expense to attend cons is a significant consideration. Most people can’t afford multiple big travel-vacation-things in a year… and until I have an actual career in writing it’s hard to justify a con as anything but a big travel-vacation-thing.

Trackbacks

  1. The WordPress 2011 Year In Review Post « The Undiscovered Author
  2. I’m not Dragon*Conning this year but… « The Undiscovered Author
  3. 2012 In Review: Writing and Blogging « The Undiscovered Author

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