As I’m sure you can tell from this blog title, I’m back from DragonCon. It was not quite what I had expected. I went to an anime convention in Dallas while I was in college. I was expecting it to be more like that experience. I knew DragonCon was a much larger convention, but I didn’t realize just how much larger it was. We spent as much time waiting in lines to see some of the big-name panels as we did in the panels themselves. Probably more time in line actually.
The first day was extra crazy because we weren’t expecting the lines to be quite so long. We also hadn’t really planned out our schedule for the day, except I knew I wanted to go to the Terry Brooks autograph session Friday afternoon.
We stopped by the dealer room briefly, but it was so crowded that it was almost claustrophobic. It was like herding turtles into a cattle pen for slaughter. Everyone was shoulder to shoulder inching along. Not to even mention if you wanted to stop and look at anything. You had to wait until someone left the booth to make space for you. We decided to leave and come back later in the weekend when the crowds in the dealer room were slightly thinner.
After missing our morning panel because the line wrapped around the building twice, I got in line an hour early for the Terry Brooks autograph session (my husband went to see something else). Terry Brooks and Anne McCaffrey were two of the first fantasy and science fiction writers I ever read. When I heard they would both be at this DragonCon, that was the deciding factor for my attendance this year.
Terry Brooks and his wife, Judine, arrived early. He started signing books before his hour officially began, and I was through the line five minutes after the signing was officially scheduled to start. Terry Brooks was really nice. I only had a couple of minutes with him while he was signing the book I brought. I didn’t know what to say. I’m sure he’s heard everything before. Everything about how much people love his books and appreciate his writing. Unable to think of anything more unique to say, I said basically the same thing. But I also mentioned that I am an aspiring writer. He asked what I write. I told him fantasy and science fiction. His advice for writers is to keep trying. There are so many different factors that go into whether a book is successful or not, and what works one time might not work in another case. As an aspiring writer, you have to keep trying and “sometimes the magic works“. Okay, he didn’t say that last part word for word, but it’s essentially what he said (keep writing) and I added the reference to his book on writing for purposes of this blog.
I also attended the panel with Terry Brooks and his editor from Del Rey later that evening. Look for more about Terry Brooks and this panel in an upcoming blog in the next few weeks. Other panels I attended over the course of the weekend included ones with the cast of Battle Star Galactica, Stan Lee, and William Shatner.
When I finally made it back to the dealer room on Sunday, I stopped by the booth for Yard Dog Press and met Selina Rosen, Laura J. Underwood and Sherri Dean. Selina also gave me some advice on writing. She said that if you want to be a writer, you need to do two things:
- Keep writing. Don’t just talk about writing. Do it. And don’t continue rewriting the same manuscript over and over again if it’s not working. Keep writing new material.
- Write what you are passionate and don’t worry what anyone else thinks about it. With all the effort that goes into writing, it’s only really worth the effort if you’re writing something you’re passionate about.
Selina’s advice really struck me because of her second point. Every single writer I have ever talked to says something along the lines of ”write” or “keep writing”. But the second point is really important too, because if you worry about what everyone else thinks, then it can paralyze you as a writer or suffocate your “writing voice”.
When I was compiling my poetry book for my wedding, I didn’t really worry about the other readers. The point of the book was a wedding gift and the poem for my husband was most important. I worried and worried about that poem and procrastinated it as long as I possibly could. Probably longer than I should have. But I was still able to ship the completed books in time to give out at my wedding. Aside from the poem for my husband, I think I only made changes to one other poem solely based on the target audience for the book. But I only changed it because it stood out. The reader’s opinions were not really on my radar when I finalized the poems for the book. That’s probably part of why the book now exists in print.
It was only later, a few weeks after the wedding when the realization dawned on me that I hadn’t considered what other people would think about the poetry. My mother had called and mentioned the poetry book among other topics on the call. I asked her what she thought about it and she didn’t really say much. I’m still not sure if she liked it or not. But then again, my parents have never really ”gotten” poetry. It was only then that I started to worry what other people would think of the poetry. But at that point it was already published so there really wasn’t anything to do about it. And at a certain point every published writer has to take the leap and send their long-wrought written-child out into the world.
I remember back in high school writing 17 novella-length “Captain Codfish” adventure novels. Looking back, I always thought the reason it was so easy to write back then was because I didn’t have a life (my parents were overprotective and wouldn’t let me and my siblings do any activities away from home). Okay, maybe that was part of it. But now I think perhaps another factor was that I didn’t feel any pressure. I was unaware of the difficulties of being a writer, so I simply wrote because I enjoyed it. Whereas, ever since college I have always felt pressured for my writing to live up to everyone’s expectations.
One of several reasons why I set aside my Captain Codfish setting, my Landrina setting, and never really started much in my Lessara and Nokar settings was because of people’s expectations of those settings. When I started my Kaylee Nevins story it was a blank slate; something new and different. Something to start over with new ideas. In a sense, freedom. I’m sure I’ll get back to the other settings eventually when the time is right. But the Kaylee setting feels good right now. I foresee lots of good to come from the Kaylee stories. Who knows, Kaylee might be the next best thing since Harry Potter. :P