Two weeks ago, the SLF went to ChiCon8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention. Here are some things we learned:
1.) If you find out early enough that you’re going to WorldCon, check out the nominees. Read (or watch) the works on there if you haven’t already, and then vote for them! That way, you won’t feel left out at the Hugo awards should you choose to go. (Mary Anne notes: You can read everything nominated for free as part of your WorldCon membership; it’s all included in the Hugo voting packet!)
2.) Clear out literally as much of your TBR/TBW pile as possible. People are not unsurprisingly going to be talking about media! The more you’ve read or watched, the more fulfilling conversations you’ll be able to have. A good cheat sheet is to see what’s on the ballot for Hugos. A lot of people should’ve read those.
3.) Meet people! This one is tricky because you don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. Talk to the panelists you enjoyed, ask them questions (if they have time/energy), and follow them on Twitter! Go to the parties and the fan meets if you can! If you see someone with an SLF pin, don’t hesitate to say hi! (Mary Anne notes: Writers and editors often hang out in the bar at conventions; you don’t need to drink alcohol to join them there! Nursing a glass of ice water for hours is just fine, though your server will appreciate it if you tip them…)
4.) If you’re a future writer or doing work in the literary field that can be helpful or helped, bring business cards! (Emmanuel says: I didn’t even think to bring any, BUT I was cute the whole time so it was fine).
5.) Although it was a first time for some of us, we had our director introduce us to people and make sure we didn’t get lost, and it was in our hometown. So we don’t want to minimize how overwhelming it might feel. But you should STILL go. If you can, then you should! (Emmanuel adds: Even if you aren’t published, there was something kind of motivating/freeing to meet so many normal people who were published. And how normal the people publishing also were. Lots of normal folks normally normaling. It helped demystify the “feat” of becoming a published writer).
6.) Don’t be afraid of stepping outside your comfort zone, as it can be very rewarding in terms of experiences and even new friendships! As this was my first con, it was a little intimidating to be meeting so many new people in such a short time span. Especially after the isolation many have likely felt because of the pandemic. But I found comfort in the fact that everyone there is just as or even more nerdy as me, with many of the same interests in books, shows, and movies. It’s helpful to realize we’re all fans here, and there’s a group that you can fit in in one way or another. (Darius notes: A helpful way to find these people is going to panels that pique your interest, as there will be others there for the same reasons. Talk to them after panels, about the panels! You might strike up a great conversation.)