Yesterday I bid farewell to the 30th installment of Midsouthcon. Since my first introduction to “cons” three years ago, these events have come to be one of the highlights of my year. There is a peculiarity and openness to the people that is a rarity in the world at large, and it is a joy to be amongst such oddity and creative compulsion. Each year yields new friends and new insight, and this year was no different.
Why am I mentioning this? In part because it gives me an excuse to report some of the highlights of this year’s con, but also because I am discovering how incredibly useful these conventions can be as a source of inspiration, camaraderie, education, networking, and self-marketing. Every con connects me to more people who are following a similar path to my own, and (nearly) every connection is a boon even if it is only a source of clever banter, laughter and smiles. Three things that permeate my world, especially at con. In other words, I’d recommend some measure of attendance for everyone if for no other reason than to connect with other people on a similar path.
A quick note for the uninitiated however, make sure the convention you attend is geared for you. Midsouthcon, as an example, has a distinct literary bent which always makes it a great resource for writers of speculative fiction. Check out the guests who are coming and the programming that’s planned.
That point actually makes a decent segue way for the events of the past weekend. As always, I enjoyed the company of friends not often seen. I quickly located author Stephen Zimmer and soon after touched bases with Dan and Jackie Gamber who are always in the midst of something new and exciting. This particular time it involved film shorts and superheroes as well as the release of Jackie’s new novel, Sela. For me, even as a guest, I take advantage of my free time to attend panels and this year was no different. I was very fortunate to be free for Michael Stackpole’s “21 days to a novel”. Pretty quickly I was in the flow of panels, workshops, quickly snatched snacks and conversations littered as haphazardly through my day as the few moments of rest I could grab.
As for my part in it all, I had an incredible group for “The Science of Magic” workshop. It was a joy to hear their ideas as we begin building a system of magic from scratch. The cooperative imagination is always a spark of inspiration! Immediately after, I had the privilege of moderating a panel on the oft overlooked details in world building. It was a great and entertaining group. Much of the day afterward was spent in the company of friends having fulfilled any responsibilities for the day. My final work of the con was tidied up the following day in a panel entitled “Faith in Speculative Fiction”. It’s a huge subject, but I think the panelists handled it well. I’m positive we could have continued on for another hour! It was a great group. I ended my con with Michael Stackpole’s workshop. It provided important tools I didn’t have that are already helping me fill in the gaps; helping me tackle obstacles to setting the first words to paper in my first novel.
I know that reads like a report. In short, I’m better connected and better equipped, and I’m also encouraged and energized. That great intangible called FUN was had by all. So, until next year, cheers!