I’m back from Convolution 2015, and trying to face the real world.
Convolution was not my first fandom-focused convention; that honor goes to BayCon. But it was the first one I made a point of becoming a regular at, and the first one I have felt this level of commitment to; the one year I had to miss it (due to the timing of our honeymoon) I honestly felt like I was somehow letting down a friend. After that year, and the discovery of the theme for this year — “FANDOM: LEGION,” and the celebration of diversity and inclusivity in fandom — I decided it was time to make the offer and see if I could take the next step: would they be willing to have me as a guest?
“I think you’d be a great fit!” I was informed by the staff member who contacted me. And then the whirlwind began.
Impostor syndrome hit literally immediately. I’m not qualified to be on panels. I’m not qualified to talk about anything to people. I’m not qualified to moderate a panel of experts, which I was going to be allowed to do. And I certainly do not even belong in the same room as the Guests of Honor, especially Brianna Wu, with whom I would be discussing the Women of Marvel. Jesus Christ, I tell myself, what have I gotten into?
But backing out was not an option; if I did that, I’d never know if my impostor syndrome was right or not, and that alone is enough to get me out the door. So I did my research. I put together my notes. I read some works by the authors I’d be on panels with. I contacted my friends and colleagues Leslie and Sara to get their thoughts on how to shot web re: panels. I did all the groundwork I could and prayed that it would be pay off.
tl;dr: Being on panels is fun, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has something they feel they can be on a panel about.
Convolution was a great con for me; it was a working con, for sure, with me passing out business cards and making awkward small talk and also that thing where I was on panels about things for 3 or so hours every day. But for all that it was a refreshing working con, and a reminder that doing what I love and being around people doing what they love is exactly the kind of work that doesn’t feel like working for me.
My greatest hits for this con:
The Women of Marvel panel, my first professional panel ever, and a total barn-burner of a way to start. The moderator (Carrie Sessarego) later told me she was worried that I was made uncomfortable by being the only man on the panel, and therefore the one the other panelists addressed when discussing the male domination of our culture. No; that was exactly what I wanted from being the only man on that panel. Plus I got to talk about Ms. Marvel, and who doesn’t love that?
The “Developing a Writing Practice” panel, the first panel I’ve ever moderated. I had a little trouble keeping a steady hand on this one, and I definitely had to walk back something I said about MFAs (short version: they are useful for learn how to write from a mechanical and framework standpoint, but never trust one that tells you how to write). The panelists were animated and engaged and the audience seemed to learn something, and I got some contacts out of it, and really it was just a huge success and I am so glad.
The Modern Boogeymen panel, with my friends and colleagues Matt and Kendra Pecan (whose web presence I do not have at hand at the moment). I learned a lot hearing them talk about their areas of boogeyman expertise, and I learned a lot from the audience, and it was one of the most engaged, interested, excited audiences I have seen at a panel in the history of ever. I need to read more Brothers Grimm to keep up with Kendra, and long-time followers of mine know that’s not a statement I make lightly. Also, obligatory: Watch It Follows.
The “I’m A Bad Fan” panel with Leslie. It was a small audience, being one of the unfortunate post-checkout-time panels on the last day of the con; but it was an engaged audience, and one that seemed happy and relieved to be addressing the subject. I am officially borrowing panelist Brad Lyau’s phrase “the adult at the table” to describe the behavior I want to see from myself and other fans going forward. (Example: “So what if that person is just here to cosplay? Be the adult at the table and welcome them for being enthusiastic about something!”) Also: I totally didn’t freak out when an audience member told me they don’t like Superman. The table, I adulted it.
Giving my first live reading and getting actual applause from the other authors there. I feel like maybe there really is a writing community out there now, and like I really could be a part of it.
Giving out my business cards and having the other guests actually contact me. I’ve got some irons in the fire I didn’t a day ago, and some publishers to possibly submit to, and some potential new friends and colleagues to add to my list. Again: maybe I really can be a part of this whole big wonderful thing.
Having friends who can make sure “Sentinels of the Multiverse and chill” is an option for my evenings, after I’ve finished attending/being on panels and need to screw my head back on the right way.
The “Writing Fight Scenes That Aren’t Wack” workshop with Guest of Honor Balogun Ojetade, and not only learning volumes from him about pacing and physics and flow, but getting to be the hands-on demonstration of a take-down, and more importantly, getting a little applause for my practice fight scene we wrote at the end of the panel. Now I get to say the writer of The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman showed me exactly how he’d kick my ass.
And most importantly: Getting to do all of the above with my wife, the person I always want with me on every adventure I take. Love is so cool, everyone.
Special thanks here to go to Suzie Rodriguez, the staffer whom I dealt with most directly over the course of the con. She was friendly and helpful and made sure I figured out how to do the guest thing with a minimum of difficulty. I would likely have been a mess by Friday night if it hadn’t been for her encouragement.
In summary: Convolution is wonderful; being a guest is great; and I hope I get to do it again, and again, for many years to come.
Thanks, Convolution! See you next year!