My first FantasyCon

I went to FantasyCon 2015 this weekend and had a great time. It was my first time at the conference and I’ll definitely be going back.

Highlights were: meeting publishers, agents and writers. free books! finding out about London-based writing groups.

I went to ten workshops and panels covering topics such as managing your anxiety, fight scenes, the future of epic fantasy, marketing books, and religion in fantasy. Key learning points were: almost all of the successful published writers on the panels had day-jobs; and I still have some procrastination issues to work through. Plus lots of useful tips about writing and the business of writing. There were lots more, but you can never go to all the sessions at these events.

Emma Newman‘s workshop around how anxiety gets in the way of writing was a real eyeopener and well-timed at the start of the Con. I didn’t think I had more than average fear of writing – over the years I’ve worked on insecurity about my talent, my right to a voice, thinking that no one would want to read my writing, fear of exposure and being seen. All those things are still there, but they’re examined, labelled and stuck in a box to keep them from being too disruptive. I do procrastinate though, and anxiety can show up as withdrawal and indifference, so I thought maybe I could learn something. And I did. I hope Emma Newman will do a workshop next year on fear of networking. It was daunting to go to the social activities by myself on the Saturday night, but SFF fans are lovely, kind people and it only took a few minutes before someone drew me into a conversation.

I’m so pleased I went. I have lots of reading to do, I’m very excited about finding out about lots of authors I’ve never encountered before. Watch out for the reviews!

Reflections on alt.fiction 2010

Wow, what a difference two years makes. I’ve just got back from alt.fiction 2010 and it was thought-provoking and inspiring.

I went to alt.fiction 2008 and it was a fun event. I met some people and learnt some things about writing and getting published, but it wasn’t such an amazing experience that I was keen to come back again. The organisation and sessions had an amateurism that doesn’t appeal to me. I have some experience in professional event organisation, which may make me harsher than others, and the little things are important to the overall impression of the day. We all have our quirks, right?

2009 didn’t happen. I know what the reasons were; I think it had to do with funding and logistical support. Given an extra year, and the fact that I have friends in Derby, I thought it would be fun to go again. I wasn’t expecting too much.

This time round both the organisation and panels were better. The event seemed smoother and there were plenty of helpful staff on hand to keep things under control. The panellists (many of whom were the same as 2008) stepped up to the smarter venue and better organisation. The disucssions were erudite and intelligent and I was inspired by the conversations. It reminded me that there’s nothing that’s more fun than talking about books and writing, especially specultative fiction.

I couldn’t attend every session. From what I did attend, this is what I’m taking away with me:

  • Writing can be a career. You have to decide what you want from it and treat it in the same way you would any other career.
  • A web presence is essential.
  • Chasing the market doesn’t work. Write what you need to write – the market will catch up with you.
  • I have so much reading to do…

I’m definitely going next year. Maybe by then I’ll have worked up the courage to talk to a publisher about my novel.