I won the lottery this weekend, and while it wasn’t money, it was an amazing experience. Back in August, Terri LeBlanc (Second Run Reviews), Erin Channell (ICON volunteer, reader, and cosplayer), Dana Beatty (photographer and generally awesome), and Jed Quinn (author of Orchard) invited me to moderate three panels. What an amazing opportunity, but ICON also fell on one of the few weekends my wife was actually off work. Still, my beautiful, understanding wife found a way for us to do both. So Saturday night, I moderated the “Getting Over Writer’s Block” panel with Jed, Patty Templeton, and Mickey Zucker Reichert. Sunday, I moderated two panels: “Writing + Worldbuilding” with David Gerrold, Ann Leckie, and Jim C. Hines; and “Writing + 9-5 Job” with Dennis Green and Tara Tolly.
I’m not going to get into the details of these panels. There were too many topics covered, so I’ll hit the highlights.
Getting Over Writer’s Block
This was the panel with the most engagement from the audience, in my opinion. There were a lot of ideas thrown around about what writer’s block is and how to beat it, but the general consensus was: everyone experiences it differently. Techniques for beating it included “working on another project,” “exercise,” “drinking,” “curling up in a ball in the corner,” “updating the website,” and many more. Some of these are more effective for me than others. I’m not going to tell you which…
Writing + Worldbuilding
This panel is the one where I learned the most. I like to work by doing almost all my planning up front, but that has its downside. Namely, it is entirely possible for me to plan and build for years and never write a word. Yes, this happened to me once. I don’t want to talk about it. I learned that the more successful authors plan enough to start, and then figure out the other pieces as they go. I think that’s smart and I am going to try it out. I’m hoping it’ll streamline my process in the future, letting me get to the writing sooner than later.
Writing + 9-5 Job
This panel came at the end of the Con and I think everyone was pretty worn out because Dennis, Tara, and I didn’t get as many questions from the audience as I was expecting. As a result, we wandered off topic a little and discussed other things writers have to do in their busy schedules, like self-promotion, website updates, and the like. Social media interactions and uses came up, and I learned that I need to expand my online presence. My first step will be to set up an author’s Facebook page so I can divide my personal and professional life a little more definitively.
The only swag that matters to me are books. After having an opportunity to get to know some of these authors in person, I walked away with copies of Orchard, by Jed Quinn; Sere from the Green, by Lauren Jankowski; Traveler, by Dennis Green; and, last but not least, WIthin, by Aaron Bunce. I wanted to pick up Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie, and Goblin Quest, by Jim C. Hines, but I couldn’t find copies in the dealer room. That doesn’t mean they weren’t there, just that I didn’t find them. I look forward to digging into these books in the coming weeks. If I have time, I’ll get reviews together. I’m already so far behind, and with a baby on the way, my priorities are going to be preparing for that and continuing with my writing.
I think ICON 40 may have completely changed the way I think about science fiction and fantasy conventions. Let me be clear, big Cons have their place. There are huge superstars of writing all around you. Costumes, outfits, chainmail, books, and lots and lots of discussion of writing. In a lot of ways, it’s overwhelmingly awesome.
But they also have their downsides, especially for an introvert like me. I don’t like big crowds. I feel incredibly out of place and awkward. I enjoyed MiniCon this year, but I never felt as comfortable as I did this weekend at ICON. It helped that I knew lots of people there before I walked in the door. But the best part, the most amazing part of the weekend, was getting to know the people on the panels with me. My only regret is that I didn’t get any pictures to share. I was too busy enjoying the content to even think about pulling out my phone to grab a photo or two. Maybe if someone is reading this and has some photos they want to share???
Thank you for the great memories, everyone! I am already excited about ICON next year! I can’t wait!
- October 2015 Update
- Book Review: Shadows for Silence / Perfect State