I’ve been going to science fiction conventions for over a decade now. My first one “barely” qualifies as a real con in the eyes of the true, hard-core convention goer. It was poorly attended, run by a company that charged crazy money for the pleasure of sitting in a room to watch some of my fave actors talk about their experience with Star Trek and its various spawned franchises. The dealer room was basically a closet and the food was ridiculously expensive. It sounds like a dreadful experience.
But, you know what? I was hooked.
It was like the mother ship calling me home. For the first time, I’d found a group of people with whom I shared a kinship. You could talk about something you loved (in this case ST: Voyager) without fear of ridicule. And, better yet, you were encouraged to wear a costume (I donned my smart looking Voyager-era Federation uniform) while doing it. It was a safe place for folks like me to share their passion for science fiction with other like-minded souls.
Since I was a kid, I liked to make up stories. (I was a fantastic liar.) It translated to writing stories as a young adult and became a hobby for me because I’d always feared what I wrote wouldn’t be considered good enough for public consumption. (There’s a reason I say George McFly is my spirit animal.) This fear told me that I needed to hide that passion. Being fodder for bullies at school only helped to reinforce that fear.
This past weekend, I attended Arisia which is one of New England’s largest fan-run conventions. It’s a yearly event that I look forward too with the same fervor others reserve for Christmas or Spring Break. I was thrilled to be on a panel (Marketing Your Book in the Digital Age). Hopefully, I was able to convey my insights and experiences in a way that enlightened others. (At least, no one ran away screaming.) It was the first time I was a panelist in this particular capacity. And, moving on, my model of exposure is to try to participate in a similar capacity for other cons. Granted, it does kind of sap some of the free time out of a con for me, requiring me to do more adulting than I normally would at such an event. But the experience was really gratifying.
Looking at it on this side of things, I have to wonder how differently my writing career would have been had I been exposed to a science fiction convention earlier. Would I have found my “peeps” and the source of my support then? Would my fears have been abated?
Everything happens for a reason. I’m a big believer in that. A lot of things (good, bad and horrible) had to happen to me in order to be in the place that I am now (which, for the record is good). But, I do think about that alternate reality me that got the support for her passion at an earlier age.