There are all sorts of conferences for writers: fan cons, writer cons, gaming cons, fantasy cons, Sci fi/fantasy cons, mystery cons, romance cons… Lots and lots and lots of cons. I’ve been to many cons over the years and I like fantasy cons best. Why? Drama and comedy, the strange and bewildering mix of reality and multiple-alternate-non-realities. People let loose of their deeper, hidden selves at fantasy cons. All the stuff inside gets a place to come out and roam the halls and see the world(s). It’s fun!
I am still processing ConCarolinas, which means a lot of things, some of them weird, some of them part of my inner demons. The inner demons are the ones claiming with clear certainty that I am worthless and useless and a total bigmouth. And, let’s be honest, I *am* a total bigmouth. Maybe not worthless or useless, but big mouth, I got. (grins) Of the many things I remember from the con, the strongest one was the small voice of a girl. (Well, she was younger than I which makes her a girl to me, right?) She said, “I’ll never have the courage to get up there on a panel and talk. I just can’t.”
Well, neither can I. I panic and worry and get sick to my tummy. But I’ve learned to wait to have the worst of the panic attacks until I get home. At the risk of showing too many inner demons to the world, I’ll answer that young woman’s thoughts with my own after-con-panic attack. Maybe it will help her to deal with fear of maybe someday speaking at a conference.
A few random panicked (pickled? That’s what my fingers first typed. Freud???) thoughts:
Did I really say that? Yes. It came out of my mouth. It probably belongs to me.
Did I take up too much time on panel? Probably. I have a mouth and it is very opinionated. Unlike my own sweet self. David and Misty stop laughing.
Did I really tell that writer to shut up, that the question was directed at someone else? Yes (in a small voice) I did. I am evil and lightning may strike me for it, but… hell… I’d do it again.
Did I whine? (Oh, no. Don’t ask!) Yes, I did. But one time when I was hungry and David and Misty had gone off to eat without me, (without me, do you hear!) my whine got me a private lunch with Katherine Kurtz. Not that I whined *at her*, but she was hungry too. God, I love that woman! She is elegant and calm, sophisticated, gracious. All the things I long to be. And never will. I am waxing paranoid and sharing my panic-attack here, but in all seriousness, I do know my limits. Katherine Kurtz has it all. Me? I was so nervous I couldn’t hold my fork. Thank God I was wearing black. Hey, what else does one wear at a fantasy con. Come ON!
Did I ask Katherine Kurtz to do a Q and A on MW? YES! I did, Point one to me!
Did I ask her to join us (all 20 or so writers) for dinner? Yes. And she came. Whoowhoo!
Did I eat too much? Yes. Do I care? No. I just freaking don’t.
Did I drink too much? No. Another point to me.
Did I ignore my hubby? Yes. (Small voice.) I always do at a con. It is time for writers and fans. He understands. But it still bothers me.
Did I *say* something mean, or ignore a fan, or *do* something mean or stupid? Probably. I don’t pay attention when I am tired and believe me, cons are very tiring. People get feelings hurt at cons. David had a many-hours drive home after the con. I got to prop my feet up and ride in the RV. I do have it good, I admit.
Did I feel worthless and stupid and … yes. I did. I do now, while I am running it through my mind. So, to that sweet young woman who said she could never do this…well, you can. If I can, you can. Write. BIC (Butt in Chair). Then someday, a con. You. Will. Be. Great!
Cons are fun. You get to see writers at our best and our worst. You get to see us interact with one another and you get to interact with us. Some of it is high drama, like when panels got heated about the nature of faith or science or the purpose of fantasy vs. science (I heard about that one; didn’t see it). And some of it is comedy, like when a certain writer came out of the closet as a cross-dresser appearing as his alternate persona, as a female. Oh. My. God.
You get to see old friends and make new. And pray God – not make a totally blathering idiot fool of yourself. All this was for one writer/fan. Hope the rest of you…well, don’t know what you might have gotten out of it. (grins)