Gen Con and Beyond

Today, Gen Con ends. It theoretically ended for me yesterday, due to a money-saving initiative in which Heidi and I decided not to drive down for Sunday. (Driving each day was cheaper than staying in a hotel, and meant we got the three days we got without leaving us desperate for cash before the next paycheck.) Here’s a brief account of some highlights as they come to my sleep deprived mind:

I made confirmation that Jim Butcher actually exists, or at least has a flesh and blood representative. If it turns out that he is some sort of novel writing robot, I think I could be okay with that, so long as it keeps writing The Dresden Files.

I met Bill Willingham, creator of Fables, a series in which I have had much interest. I’ve only read a bit here and there, but after hearing his insights I will move grabbing Fables volumes up on my priority list. I accidentally attended a panel he hosted, a forum style discussion in the nature of heroes, and found a lot of food for thought. Thank you, Bill, for being an insightful moderator. I also got to meet Sam Sykes, whose insights and friendly demeanor talked me into giving his first book a try. He gave me a comic that serves as a predecessor to his new series, too. That, a book by Larry Correia (who is on the fast track to being one of my favorite authors based on his panel skills alone) and a new volume of Schlock Mercenary, constituted the whole of my bookloot for the year.

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I spent much of my time flitting around the Writer’s Symposium with my wife and my good friends W.E. and Jennifer Mitchell. I do not know if I would say I truly Learned Something in these panels, but each one sparked useful conversations within our group afterward. New information is not always required; sometimes taking a pass at the same information in a new way, from a fresh perspective, can jostle loose new ideas.

On the subject of new ideas, our group of four participated in the Iron Game Designer challenge. This was the very last thing that we did at the con, so, for me, I met it with a mix of grinning anticipation and sighing weariness. The challenge, it turned out, was to build a game around a randomly chosen set of theme words using identical boxes of components. In one and a half hours, our team came up with a fairly complex little game. Though it was only just barely in a playable state at the time of our presentation (which I decided to give due to the background volume of the room and sort of botched), out game, Peace Fire, was ‘awarded’ Best Components and Artwork in our half of the competition by the judges.

Our team, high on the fumes of our victory, decided that the concept, a sort of space race / 4X strategy hybrid, deserved further consideration. As a side project, we’ll be looking into its viability as an actual game. This is the thing about which I left the con most excited, which surprised me. It surprised me further to find that, today, in a merely semi-weary state (rather than full-on fatigue last yesterday) I still think it’s a good idea. Exploring this new avenue of my ever-expanding career potentials (that I had not considered seriously before) and the thought of continuing it gives me a certain energy that I hope to exploit. (Strategy fans should see what I did there. Er, exterminate.)

I’m sure there is more to say. I took copious notes in several of the panels I attended (and, with Heidi, decided that this time spent working on my writing should count toward my Magic Spreadsheet). I hope to do a series of posts summarizing the lessons learned for those unable to attend such a con. (These tidbits are useful for new writers who are the least likely to be able to afford attending.)

I don’t have quite the buzz I got last year, but I do have a certain grim determination that I feel beginning to form. Writing is a long journey, and sort of a slog more often than you might hope. If there was any common theme among the various panels, it was this: Perseverance is the number one factor shared among successful writers. Keep going and you will succeed. Some days, it’s hard to remember that. Just have to keep going anyway.

I started several paragraphs in this post with the word “I,” an error which I typically try to avoid.

I will not edit this to eliminate that problem because I am too tired to care.

In other news, Heidi and I tapped into the livestream of the Hugo Awards ceremony this afternoon. Because of the cost, we could not attend WorldCon, but decided to dress up and watch the ceremony anyway. Plus, this way, we got to have popcorn.

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