I am recovered at last (more or less) from my journey to the World Fantasy Con in Arlington, Virginia and ready to tell you all about it. So settle in with your tea.
Hubby and I arrived on Thursday afternoon. He planned to do the DC tourist thing, while I spent my time socializing and attending events. I met up with my VP 17 tribe, and met in person some of the people I see on the Codex online group. Also, I attended a gathering of the people who took Mary Robinette Kowal’s classes, and met IRL some of those who where in my class last year. It was so amazing to see these all people in the flesh instead of in a tiny still photo or a webcam image on your screen. And to have conversations with them in real time.
I went to a few panels each day, as well as attending the opening ceremonies, ice cream social, and part of the awards ceremony (had to leave to catch my flight home). Let me tell you, there are some amazing people in the spec fic field, and listening to them debate and ponder and discuss topics is lots of fun. And sometimes very educational. Also, these people are nice. Really nice. Toastmaster Mary Robinette Kowal is so pleasant and easy to speak with. GoH Chelsea Yarbro Quinn has the most amazing, high-wattage smile–it seemed to light up the area around her. SFWA president Steven Gould is very down-to-earth and congenial. I could go on and on, naming those you’ve heard of as well as those that perhaps you haven’t, but you get the picture. It was a whole lot of fun.
So this was a very different WFC for me in two ways: 1) spouse accompaniment, and 2) I know folks to socialize with! This latter bit was the most awesome thing (not that spouse isn’t awesome, but he already knows that–that’s why he’s “spouse,” of course!). I’ve been to two WFC previously (Toronto and Columbus, OH), and this was my favorite simply by virtue of knowing people there.
OK, that might sound simplistic, but really it only reiterates something I’ve thought all along, something that is difficult for some and easy for others. That is that your “tribe” or the social community of writers that you belong to can make all the difference. They can support you when times are tough, cheer with you when things are great, offer advice and knowledge. And you help them, too. It’s a two-way street. Go read this blog post (I’ve linked to it before) by Kameron Hurley. If you don’t have time for that, just read this small bit:
“One of the most powerful things I ever did for my career, and my continued sanity, was to get to know other writers facing the same challenges. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook, supplemented with the occasional convention, have connected me with incredible people willing to share their own fraught publishing journeys. What stunned me more than anything else is how each of us thought our experiences were entirely unique, when it turned out we shared many of the same fears and frustrations.
“What will keep me writing far longer than I expected is not, necessarily, my passion, my talent, or the romantic story of how stringing together words will help me transcend the mortal plane. No, the deeper I get into the publishing game, the more I realize that what will keep me going when everything crumbles around me is the incredible support, advice, and commiseration I’ve gotten from other writers.”
So, my takeaway from WFC is that if you are a writer, hie thee to a writing community–in person, online, both–whatever works for you. Find somewhere and some people with whom you feel comfortable and wiggle down into the muck. Make yourself a home. You’ll never regret it.