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?
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. Continue reading