On Rejections and Conventions

Oh, what a day, what a week, what a month.

It hasn’t been going too well on the writing train, or at least it feels like this is the case. I have kept up consistency in my work, I keep showing up each day for increasing periods of time and effort. Beyond that, I don’t feel like I’m making much progress.

This is not a tenable position, floundering in my writing, and so it will be a temporary one. A lot of my troubles in the creative realm are due to fluctuations in brain chemicals, so learning to work around those cycles is a mandatory step in fully pushing into Professional Writer territory.

News the First: I finally got myself rejected for the first time. Scratch that, I got a story rejected for the first time. (That first one is exactly the attitude you’re not supposed to take.) It’s just part of the business, receiving rejections, and now that I’ve started, the idea is to keep accumulating them. Eventually, you get enough rejections to where you are statistically required to sell a story, or something like that.

I admit that the first rejection hit me in a soft spot and kicked me out of my authorly groove for a bit longer than I expected. Part of this is due to my receiving the rejection on an otherwise kinda crummy day. This also occurred on the entry point to my emotional nadir, so its effects linger on.

Still, as my friend (similarly suffering from rejectionitis) pointed out, at least the rejection came before Gen Con. The ship has sailed on water passing under the bridge, where a cart has been put before a horse that just won’t drink. Or something like that.

Point is, we can all get it out of our systems. And when said friend arrives for the con, there will be a little bit of booze and a whole lot of blood! (Or maybe it was the other way around on that ratio… because, yes, blood is proportional to booze. (Further clarification seems wise here: this is digital blood we’ll be spilling. Mostly.))

Cons are great for getting a leg up on motivation for a while. The last two years I went to WorldCon, learned a little bit, and came back re-energized a lot. It doesn’t last, and it’s a bit of a letdown when the charge fades, but I’m finding that I bottom out a little higher each year.

Convention etiquette is on my mind, and I recently read one of Chuck Wendig’s “25” lists about it in his book 500 Ways to Write Harder (though you can read this article on his blog free here). He covers what to expect from a con, as well, so it’s well worth the read. If you want a further exploration of how to comport oneself at a con, I recommend searching the backlogs of Mur Lafferty’s excellent podcast, “I Should Be Writing, for any of the episodes that cover conventions. She focuses on etiquette a lot more than does Mr. Wendig (probably because Chuck’s beard does most of the talking at cons, a strangeness to which one adjusts alarmingly quickly). The one guideline that Mur put in a succinct manner that I remember best is the “3-2-1 Rule.”

3-2-1 says, each day that you’re at the con, get a minimum of:

3 hours of sleep
2 mealtimes
1 shower

I’m no convention veteran, but with two cons under my belt I feel like I can affirm this concept. The sleep seems obvious, but time can get away from you when you’re in the mix of things. I actually need a minimum of 6 hours to be at functioning capacity, so adjust as needed.

Two mealtimes is another one that is tough to keep if you don’t set out intending to do so. Breakfast is a pretty easy one to have, but it’s also a pretty easy one to skip. I guess decide among your group (if you are attending with anyone else) what meal to prioritize between breakfast and lunch. Dinner, in my opinion, is a necessity. Snacking your way through dinner time should be a last resort. Not only will it give you the caloric energy to survive all the fun that takes place post-dinner (and there is a lot, if you know to look for it), but it also gives you a chance to recharge, resettle yourself.

A ten hour block of panels is great and all, but even if you’re staying in the same room, it helps to have a little time away from the bustle. Personally, I need to take a break every few hours. Work that into your schedule if you can, or be ready to make those decisions on the fly. (More than a few times last WorldCon, Heidi and I agreed that the next panel we had decided on earlier wasn’t so exciting that we couldn’t skip it to sit around for an hour.)

And then the last one: the shower. Some people, this isn’t worst bringing up, but for those who might try to squeak by with a two-day shower gap: don’t. Even if you do that at home, it’s too important to pass up. Sure, this is almost entirely cultural at this point, but no one wants to smell your acculturation, especially in close quarters. At cons, you find yourself in close quarters with others pretty regularly. Shower. Deodorant. Toothbrush. Mark II hazardous environment suit. Make it work.

One last link: Chuck Wendig wrote another post about etiquette specifically at panels and such. Worth a read.

Thank you for joining me in this reflection on rejections and conventions. Join us next time, where we answer the age-old question: Annoying Audience Guy Who Won’t Shut Up During a Panel: Will It Blend?

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