I went to my first convention this past weekend and have spent every minute since wondering why I waited to long to do so. I mean, holy smokes, was this past weekend awesome!
I discovered WorldCon really late into the game (like, only a week before pre-sale memberships were no longer on sale) because an author who I had connected with on Twitter asked if I was going to be there. I frantically looked into it and couldn’t believe it was being held in Kansas City, only an hour away from home, and all of the apparent awesomeness that awaited. How did I not know about this!? What rock had I crawled under? Despite membership prices being a bit more expensive than my budget allowed, I bought one. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet that author and any other authors or agents that might be there, bank account and adulting-financial-responsibilities be damned!
As I waited the three weeks between purchasing my membership and the actual event, I started doing a bit more research about what I was getting myself into. Hint: it was awesomeness. When the panel schedule came out, I sent my sister–who I roped into going with me–a list of all the panels I want to attend and am overwhelmed with excitement and with the inevitable truth that it will be impossible to attend everything I wanted to. There were panels about writing. Oh, so many panels about writing, from working with editors and agents to dealing with rejection and staying inspired despite life. And there were panels where I could nerd out entirely (e.g., the Lord of the Rings hero debate, which was fantastic), academic panels (e.g., using linguistic to form new fantasy languages), video game panels (e.g., hello Dragon Age!!!), amongst hundreds of others. With so many options and so many things I wanted to do, I itched to plan out exactly everything I was going to do, to the hour, before I arrived.
So I didn’t do that.
This was my first con. I didn’t know what to expect. But I didn’t want to be bound by the stress of following a schedule. Instead, I went with the flow and did want I wanted to, in the moment. And it was fantastic. There was amazing cosplay (my favorites being the Princess Anastasia and Ned Stark ((with his head, of course)). The booths were ridiculously awesome and terribly dangerous for my wallet (which actually fared slightly better than what I was expected afterwards). The people were super friendly and welcoming and helpful. One gentleman even told us about the “First WorldCon” ribbons to put underneath our badges that I am so glad we got. And I got to meet multiple authors whose work I respect and admire, plus two dream agents who I embarrassed myself in front of the entire time (why I couldn’t function while being flustered, I don’t know, but that happened), but that’s okay. The entire experience was amazing.
And then I came home and realized that it was actually even better than I realized it was while I was there.
Let me explain with an example. I bought a shirt that had a dragon on it, surrounded by a horde of books, with the phrase “Book Wyrm” written on the top (I know, amazing right?). I wore it the next day to work, because obviously when you buy a new shirt, you gotta wear it immediately after buying it. I was so excited about it. Yet while I was wearing it and walking across campus, I was self-conscious. What were people thinking? Where they judging me? Did they understand it? Did it change how they viewed me?
While I was at WorldCon, I was in awe and trying to soak everything in, both the knowledge and the experience. And I submersed myself completely. I hardly texted anyone. I wasn’t checking social media (aside from posting Tweets about the latest BAMF panel I went to and connecting with authors). I wasn’t stressing about my financial situation or the fact that I am moving this weekend. I wasn’t concerned about how people would view me, because I knew I would be accepted and welcomed automatically. Better yet, I would be accepted at my core: a nerdy, curvy writer who is overly passionate about books, my fandoms, tattoos and living inside of my own head. While I was there, no one questioned if I was a writer. There was no “if,” but what: What do you write? Where are you at in the process? Found an agent yet? No one asked what my “real job was”. No one thought my ideas and dreams were foolish. No one blamed me for being willing to turn anything and everything (and anyone) away to make room for writing; for putting my writing first in my life, above everything else.
That’s not the case after I left WorldCon.
There, I found an acceptance that I don’t always find so naturally. There, I found a confidence that I hardly ever feel otherwise. There, I got a taste of what life might be like for a published author and had my desire to pursue that field renewed (despite it not even needing rekindling). There, I let go of all my stresses and burdens of the world and simply admired, thought, questioned and learned amongst colleagues and creators. There, reading and writing and creation were paramount. There is an environment I wouldn’t mind infusing into my every day life, where I can be unapologetically, unconsciously myself.
So thanks, WorldCon, for fueling my creativity, accepting me as I am, allowing me to embrace my nerdiness openly, inspiring me to better myself and put my career as a writer in the forefront of my life and for all the awesome souvenirs. I do not, however, thank you for the smaller bank account. 😉