Recently, I attended a local convention for artists, creators, and gamers of multiple styles. If you are ever in the NorthEast Ohio region, you might want to check out Con on the Cob or the several Oddmall presentations that get put on throughout the year. (Be warned, though, that this is not “regular” art – the name “Oddmall” fits the theme. But it is still some amazing art!)
This wasn’t the first time I had gone to this convention, but I got so much more out of it this time around. I did a lot less gaming than the previous time, and attended a whole lot more seminars and panels. What made this even more fun and powerful were the mistakes that happened along the way.
One thing about conventions (especially smaller ones) is that sometimes something happens last minute, and you have to adjust on the fly. The crew and organizers of Con on the Cob were fantastic about that, even throwing some stuff together with zero prep time to accommodate this.
Case in point: there was a Writer’s Critique panel that was supposed to happen. I had a piece I created for homework from a previous panel (Homework! From a Convention!) that I brought in, and I was the only person at the panel at the beginning. So one gentleman said, “sure, I can help,” and we sat down and did a one-on-one critique.
First off, much love to the hero of the hour: Andy. He didn’t have to do this personally. He could have placed a call to see if someone else was available. But getting the organizer of the convention himself (although he often passes the praise of success to his staff) to sit down with a writer with aspirations and inspirations is … practically undescribable. It was like someone had moved Everest to me, and then placed me at Base Camp One.
Secondly, in 45 minutes, we had only covered three paragraphs, but he had wrung more about the craft and process of writing than I had thought possible. I’ve had college English classes, and I’ve considered myself a good writer. That time critiquing my writing showed me there’s a difference between writing for technical stuff, writing for business, writing for school, and writing for storytelling. Not to say my writing was bad. I just had to learn that purpose needs to be steeped into every word set out.
Third: that was so freaking fun! Getting a chance to talk with another author about the why of a piece is more fun than talking with them about the piece itself. Learning about how to build a sentence, let alone why to build it, was never this fun in school. It opened my eyes to a whole other level of writing.
There were a lot of other instances I could parade. As I said, this is a smaller convention, so you could end up with personal time. While one-on-one time is unexpected, it is more possible at a smaller convention than GenCon, for example. Most of the panels I sat in on were in this intimate style, and it impacted so much more.
While it might be a little late in the piece to mention that there were others who made an impact as well, I would be remiss if I didn’t. Marcus, Andy, Keiran, Sean, Robert, Santa, and Gandersnitch all left me with not nuggets, but motherlode veins of valuable ore to mine. So expect quite a bit more writing from me, even if it’s a little light on the woodworking.
(Oh, and there’s going to be some woodworking, too. Just… when the budget can afford it. I don’t often talk about that, but that’s a big limiting factor for me. It’s coming. I just can’t guarantee when right now.)