The esteemed fantasy writer of The Imago Chronicles and The Dream Merchant Saga, Lorna Suzuki, has interviewed me on her All Kinds Of Writing site. Check it out.
Then look at my Events Page for information on future appearances and links to past activities.
I wrote a few thoughts about this year’s VCON shortly after the event had ended this year. A month has not passed, and I feel the need to revisit what I had to say then. Not about my core question of whether what I experienced at VCON indicates a trend or a blip, but about the bias I (and others?) are carrying with us when we attend.
I am a writer. Though this is a fan and not a writers convention it does have a strong writer track to its scheduling. The more I consider the way I thought about it after my last post, the more I saw how I have been limiting my experience by attending as a writer.
A closer look at the schedule revealed how many of the panels that had been presented were only writer related because I approached them with that overlay. While panels like Time Travel in Film and What Makes a Good SF Television Series can present ideas writers can use, that was not the primary aim of either.
On the flip side. Is it possible that some people have stopped attending VCON because they have come to feel it is too writer centric rather than offering more in their particular fandom?
I recognise that no con can reach out to every fandom in every medium. I also know that a new writer centric con has been added to the local calendar, and that more than a few people who attended the latter chose not to attend VCON because of the perceived overlap. Hotels and travel costs for out-of-towners aside, it does not have to be this way.
I do not want to see VCON fade away. I also do not want to see it become so narrow in its focus that people continue to stay away because it has stopped speaking to them. I for one plan to attend future VCONs with the eye to seeing it from more than my writers eye.
I hear lots of people comment on how much you have to sacrifice to be a writer. Today I got to thinking about how wrong such a sentiment can be. It can be likened to the person who says you can’t enjoy a party if you don’t get drunk or don’t go out of your way to show off.
The world and all that implies is too big for anyone to take in during a finite lifespan. We all have to make choices about what we desire the most during this life we’ve been given.
In this sense I see sacrifice as having to give up something we desire in order to accomplish that which has to be done. I would rather be writing than have to spend long hours each day earning a living. It could be argued that I sacrifice my writing time in order to keep a roof over my head.
Mind you, a quick look at how I describe myself will show that I put writing beneath God and family. In that sense keeping a roof over my family’s head is a higher priority than writing.
All that being said, I do put writing over everything else. I am not sacrificing TV time to write. I am not sacrificing sport time to write. I am not sacrificing travel time to write. Though I may add travel time to my writing world if I reach the point that attending cons outside the local area makes sense to my writing outreach. What I am sacrificing is writing time to go off and do any of the above.
To rephrase an earlier statement, choosing to make writing a major part of my life is a matter of priority, not sacrifice. There are plenty of lesser things I willingly give up to write because they are just not important enough to place above writing. No sacrifice required.
VCON, Vancouver’s premier science-fiction, fantasy, and gaming convention is over for another year. I must confess I’m a relative new comer to this wonderful con having only attended the last 6-7 years. The energy, the people, the panels, and of course both the artist and vendor halls have all been something to look forward too each year.
Yet, this year in particular, I have noted a disturbing trend, declining attendance with an emphasis on little in the way of new blood. My wife runs the Cat’s Knitting table in the vendor hall as I attend panels. In the first few years she had come home with enough profit to cover all our costs including hotel. This year we chose to commute from home each each day and still she all but chewed her nails over low sales until a last minute surge gave her a slim, and I do mean slim, net take home. Other vendors reported the similar results.
We’ve wondered about this a couple of years now. Where are the people? Why isn’t VCON growing at least in proportion to the local population?
Some of this can be put down to the growing con scene with big anime and fan expos each year. But all of it?
At the same time I’ve noticed how little time the people behind VCON spend on the official channels through Twitter, Facebook, and the VCON blog. I know of no ads and no effort to get the word out through local news outlets designed for that very purpose. As for attendees, I might be the only one who regularly mentions VCON throughout the remainder of the year. (Please prove me wrong).
All of which leads to a final question. Is this something those of us who enjoy VCON need to worry about going forward, or is it nothing more than the usual cyclical process most fandoms go through?
Synergy Of Hopes is now available for purchase at all the major ebook stores. See my new Published Works tab for details and links.
My parents emigrated from England before I was born. Until the discovery of a long lost branch of the family in Utah we were all but the only representatives of the Downwards in North America. There is one other Downward clan out there, but even they may be related if you search back far enough. The point I want to make is that I do have a specific heritage in which I was raised.
It’s summer in NA. This means people have been ‘Going Home’ on vacation. It won’t be long before talk turns to ‘Going Home’ for Christmas or similar festivities. Not to mention all the people glued to the news about events occurring ‘Back Home’.
I don’t get it. To me, Home is wherever I unpack my suitcase. I recognise that some people are nomads by choice or work constraints, in which case their suitcase could be considered their Home. Others unpack in which ever temperary abode they find themselves in, to which I must reply Why?
My wife and I recently bought a house in Maple Ridge BC. That is now our Home. Before then lived in a bare land strata complex in a place called Anmore. That was our Home until we moved. If we were to move into a rental house in the middle of Iowa USA tomorrow, that would become our Home. (For that matter, such a move would make me an Amercan regardless of what the official paperwork calls me. Though the bigger picture that unpacks would require at least its own blog post.)
To me, Home is a intimate concept, not some place I pine for while made for whatever reason to establish day-to-day roots somewhere else. I visit my parents (though they have complicated the issue by moving several times since I ‘Left Home’). I may someday travel to England and see the places my parents grew up. None of these places are Home.
This post by Derek Haines has me once again thinking about my definition of success when it comes to being a writer.
Let’s face it, everyone has their own measure of success. Some want the numbers. Other’s want the validation of an award or list position. A few want nothing more than to know their work is out there. My goal is to one day generate sufficient income to replace what I earn from by bread and butter job. Though I do reserve the right to re-evaluate that goal as circumstances change.
If this weren’t enough, reports like the one Derek refers to give us only a part of the story. Who’s to say those .99c books aren’t loss leaders? The author could be hoping readers will go on to purchase other full price books. The whole phenomenon of perma-free books suggests this is a valid marketing technique once the author has sufficient works available.
On the flip side, Derek suggests the pricier books on the list could only have gotten there by way of a corporate publishers deep pocket marketting machine. This is an equally short-sighted position to take. There are authors out there I to whom would willingly pay 12.99ish for their next ebook. In fact, the single greatest obstacle I face when looking for an ebook is availability in the format of my choice. While not a deal breaker, having to maintain multiple libraries is a bit of a pain.
I guess my real point is that we have insufficient information to define success within the context provided.
One the other hand, as a reader who has never bought a .99c book (or downloaded a free book I hadn’t already decided I was ready to buy for that matter), I might not be the best person to tackle this question.
Enough of me rambling off on a subject I’m not yet qualified enough about to have more than an opinion. Look at what you want to achieve. Set your own goals. Then measure your success by how well you do in achieving them.