Brigid and I spent Friday through this afternoon down in Dearborn enjoying ConFusion, which is honestly one of my favorite weekends of the year. For me it is mostly a weekend spent trailing my wife as she goes about her schedule as her pack mule, but when I can I try to catch some interesting stuff and shake hands with people who know more than I do and listen and perhaps pick their brains.
Outside of panels, which I’ll get to, my favorite thing of the Con was a lunch-time round-table with Laura Resnick, Jim Hines, and my father-in-law Ron Collins. They had a lot of interesting conversation concerning agents and dos and don’ts and though Jim insisted he was still looking for the smart people his advice was as invaluable to me as anyone else’s. Plus time spent with any of them is always fun especially with a few pints of Guinness or a glass of whiskey in me.
So thank you for the invaluable info guys, I greatly appreciated the chance to bump shoulders with you, especially in such a casual environment. I hope I wasn’t too annoying.
That said, the panel that really got me motivated again (or really, made me antsy that I was sitting at a Con and not writing) was “Building the Next Great Epic,” which included Laura. The panelists had a moment when they focused on what can make something that might not be epic in the first book have an undercurrent of epicness so that readers know what to expect and this certainly made me focus on my work’s short-comings. What I have lacks some of what they are talking about, but because I am still in that drafting and editing phase, I can fix that, so I will. Eye-opening and vital.
The other was a panel just this morning featuring Brigid which was essentially a crash-course for new-ish writers who are actually planning on going into business. Brigid was the only panelist who was self-published, so her expertise was not always “in demand.” I personally feel that there is a portion of the soon-to-be, or might-be writer population who strongly focus on traditional publishing and sort of write indy publishing off. Which is strange when more and more of their panelists are starting to build a hybrid portfolio. Brigid, for example, has self-published her novels but is traditionally publishing her short stories.
I can only conjecture so much, but Brigid (having attended many more of the business-y panels than I) says that unpublished writers are usually chomping at the chain to get an agent when ink on the manuscript’s first draft is still wet. My imagination says their a certain amount of ego involved in that. But I can’t really say, obviously I could be painting with a rather wide brush.
But to bring this around full circle, my favorite part of any small, intimate convention like ConFusion is the live networking that is done over scrambled eggs and toast; or a few pints of Guinness; or a few pints of Guinness, some shots, and a huge plate of nachos. Obviously I am slightly more gregarious than some other people. A lot of people I spoke to always seemed to preface things with “I’m pretty introverted…” and having lived with Brigid I’ve sort of numbed myself to that.
It is easy for people of my character to just go “Ah! Just talk to them!” but if they could they would. I mean, that is what makes them introverted.
But drinks (of any alcohol proof 0 to 200) and food is a great way to break ice and it was fun talking to all levels of writers, both budding and well-established. My suggestion to some of the more introverted people who occupy that “budding” category, come to the bar afterwards, but maybe grab a seat near everyone, but not in the middle, up at the bar perhaps. That allows you to turn around and face the bar tender if things become overwhelming, but stay close enough to get that critical info that might be floating around.
You don’t want to lose out, but at the same time we don’t want you to shut-down or walk away more daunted than helped.
And if all else fails and you can work up the courage to talk to a nobody like me, I can always help try to organically drag someone you actually do want to talk to in for you.
Always happy to help in those few ways I can.
Wrapping up: hopefully this is my last ConFusion as a visitor and next will be my first as a panelist. I’m looking forward to an exciting 2015.
PS: The site now has a contact page! So check that out if you ever need to reach me.
Edit: Added some super commas.