As you’ll likely be aware, Loncon was my first ever con, and I really went in at the deep end – it’s a big con with a huge attendance, and there I was sitting on panels with no real idea of what exactly I should be doing. But my logic can be boiled down to ‘if I can deal with Worldcon, I can deal with anything’. And I’ve learned some useful & interesting lessons, including ‘don’t wear new Doc Martens to a con’ and ‘Finnish people are insanely friendly and brilliant’.
On Thursday I was on the ‘You Got Your SF In My Anime’ panel, which went pretty well for my first time on a panel, I think! The other panellists were really friendly, which helped a lot with the nerves. One thing which surprised me was how international the whole event was – a lot of Americans, but also people from all across Europe and beyond. (I got to practice my Japanese a little, which is always a good thing, even if my Japanese is very halting and tentative!)
Friday saw the T-Party writer’s group doing a workshop/critique circle, which, again, went very well – with a ‘special bonus talk’ from US agent Joshua Bilmes (who endeared himself to all by bringing biscuits – one important Loncon lesson: gifts of food and/or alcohol will get you almost anywhere.) And Sunday had me on a panel discussing ‘Space Rock’ and the way rock music and sci fi intersect. Despite a few teething problems in preparation it was a lively panel, with a lot of audience participation (I now know more about Hawkwind than I had ever considered possible) and a place where I could wax lyrical about David Bowie without anyone’s eyes glazing over. Also, there was the launch for David Gullen and Gary Couzen’s charity anthology ‘Mind Seed’, edited by the aforementioned gentlemen and featuring lots of fantastic SF short stories, which was well-attended – not bad for an independent anthology!
I also bought far too many books, which I suspect is a given at these kinds of events.
But, as I said, I also learned some useful lessons. Chief amongst those is that I need to talk to people more. I spent much of the con trying to pluck up the courage to speak to people – even people I vaguely knew beforehand. And I failed spectacularly in introducing myself to people who really could prove valuable contacts in this whole ‘writing business’ thing. It was my first con, and an overwhelming con in many ways, so I’m treating it as a lesson learnt: attend more cons, spend a small fortune plying people with drinks (and biscuits, apparently) and get to know more people. Feign confidence where necessary! So the plan for next year, budget willing, is to do Eastercon, Nine Worlds and World Fantasy Con. Maybe by then I’ll have mastered the tricky art of talking to strangers.