Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Humble Musings post-World Fantasy Con

I know it's been around 3 weeks since I went to World Fantasy Con in Brighton, but I'm still benefiting from its effects.
I'm not going to give you a run down of the Con itself, not the sessions I attended; my friend Selina has done an amazing job chronicling most of our adventures already.
I also won't comment here about the organisation of the event; this was my first big convention and so it's a shame to read reports about all the negative aspects of the event.
What I will share with you is what I learned from attending the event, one of the main inspirations to my sudden burst of writing drive.

1. Most people are lovely.

I think I can truthfully say that every person I spoke to was wonderfully welcoming and friendly to me. I went with the preconception that it might be a bit cliquey, especially as I'm new, but people were happy to engage in conversation, and even the famous authors I met were really generous with their time. I know this experience was not shared by all who attended the Con, and so I count myself lucky that I was surrounded by amazing people and didn't encounter and of the dross.

2.  No one knows shit about upcoming literary "trends"

This is something Neil Gaiman talked explicitly about at the World Fantasy Awards ceremony, but the theme was visible throughout the event. With medias changing and the "word of mouth" phenomenon growing (aided by the internet), no one can really predict what's going to take off in the next few years or even in what format or media it will appear. This hit home for me as I was reminded of about 4 years ago when I was told by an agent quite bluntly that girls don't read dystopian fiction and that no one would buy my book because there was no market for it, so why not try my hand at Steampunk instead?  Fast forward, post-The Hunger Games, and "dystopian SF" is the latest, hottest genre in the YA category. Don't get me wrong, in no way am I saying my novel would have been the next Hunger Games, but it did make me think: actually, people can be wrong, and that leads me into my next point...

3. Write what you love and write it well

This is advice I'd read or heard before, but after realisation number 2 above, it became much more apparent to me that now there is more of a free market, you should spend your time writing those stories that you love and with all the new publishing options out there, if it's good enough it will find its market. Be the trailblazer! Buck the trend! Create good art! That is the only way to combine creativity and personal happiness. Do what you love, and hopefully it should resonate with others who will love it too.

I was surprised by how happy I was at the convention - hungover, tired, yes, but happy - and rejoining the real world was a jolt. Attending the convention has strengthened my resolve from "wannabe" to "will be". I will finish Banshee and seek publication. It will be accepted and published and read. I will write a sequel, and a standalone, and another, and I will go to more conventions where I hope they will continue to inspire me and thousands of other "will be"s, way past the point where we become "I am"s.