Monday, August 27, 2018

Ten Reasons Why Cons Rock

Listen, I know that traveling is expensive and a hassle and that you often don't have time to put your life aside and go to a conference. I know it because the same happens to me. I also know that some writing conferences are ridiculously expensive and basically keep out regular folks like me. However, there are a plethora of reasons why you should try to go to at least one or two every year if you're seriously doing the writing thing. I spent some time this weekend at KillerCon in Austin, TX. The conference, put together by Wrath James White, used to be held in Las Vegas, and after a few years on hiatus, the new incarnation is here, and it is an awesome thing. In any case, instead of telling you about all the things I heard and read and did or about all the cool people I hugged and talked to, I'll give you ten reasons why you should go to the movies a bit less and eat at home more often so you can safe money to go to a writing conference. Here we go:

1. Old friends
I'm not going to lie: cons are sometimes like huge play dates with friends you don't see regularly. The writing community is great, but this is a big country and an even bigger world, so many of our friends live far away. Cons bring friends together.

2. New friends
Writers are weird. We have peculiar interests, keep bizarre hours, and constantly worry about what the people in our head are saying. Meeting individuals who inhabit the same reality is great. Also, writing conferences are about writing and books, so the ice is basically broken from the second you walk in because everyone in there is more than willing to talk about those things, which minimizes awkwardness. Adults usually have a hard time making friends, but wiring conferences are great places to meet new folks who are into the same things you are. Take advantage of that.

3. Creative energy  
The thing I love the most about the weeks following a conference is the creative energy inside me. When you get together with other writers and talk about your projects, something starts making you wanting to write with renewed passion and focus. Writing is a lonely gig, so whenever we get together with others who do the same thing day in and day out, we feed off each others' energy and amplify it. The result is an even greater desire to write. Yeah, that's a great thing.

4. Feedback
Cons are a great place to get feedback on new writing. You can attend workshops when there are, consult with friends, and get a reading spot to try out new material. You can also bounce ideas off people who work in your genre or talk to those who have been doing it professionally for longer than you. This leads us to...

5. Readings
Lots of people hate readings. I'm one of them. In fact I've written about how incredibly boring readings can be. That being said, I keep going to them because sometimes you attend one that revives your faith in readings. Also, listening to your friends and favorite writers read their own work is a mesmerizing experience. Last but not least, sometimes readings can help you get the creative juices flowing.

6. Parties
No con worth going to is devoid of parties. Room parties, random parties, bar get the idea. I like partying. I like partying even more when I get to do it with people I like and don't get to see every week.

7. Books
Sure, you can but books online, but there's nothing like walking into a dealer's room packed with tables stacked with books. You can buy something and get it signed by the author immediately. You can see new stuff your favorite presses are about to publish but decided to give con goes an early taste. I could keep going, but the point is this: bring money for books and pack light so you can go back home with a suitcase full of books.

8. Panels
Just like readings, panels can be the quickest way to wishing for a nap or something new and exciting. When you have experts talking about an important topic, what you're doing is getting advice and education for free. Panels can evolve and turn into amazing discussions. They can be wild and entertaining as well as weird and touching, all depending on who is talking about what and why. And yes, going to a few weak panels is worth the risk just like watching horror movies is worth it for the occasional gem that comes across your screen.

9. Community 
Old and new friends are one thing, but the building a community goes beyond that. Building a community comes from meeting people and supporting what they do. It comes from becoming interested in what everyone is doing and supporting indie presses with your actions and your dollars. When you build something fatastic, getting people to support it is very easy, and that should be your goal as a writer.

10. Fun and mayhem
Yes, there are very serious writing cons out there, but if you write crime, horror, or bizarro, chances are you will be going to cons that are as wild as they are entertainment. I don't know about you, but I like having fun. That's why I try to get to cons at least once a year. This is also why I will now try to make it out more, and why I hope to see you there. 


Brenda St John Brown said...

I wish there were more conferences in the UK for all of these reasons, but especially #9. And 3. And 1. And 10.

Mary Fan said...

Sounds about right! Cons are the best! :-D

Carrie Beckort said...

I need to find a few good ones in my area.

Cheryl Oreglia said...

So true, I try and get to one every year for all the above reasons, and the opportunity to wear my writer’s hat all day!

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