I spent this past weekend in Williamsburg, VA, attending RavenCon. It’s one of my favorite cons and I love going back there. Cons always recharge my batteries. I’ve got BaltiCon coming up Memorial Day weekend, and then I might not do another con until fall. Or next year, for that matter.
Cons are expensive, especially if you are a writer who isn’t JK Rowling or Stephen King status. You pay for your own hotel (unless you are the Guest of Honor, and I’m not at that stage in my career yet), your own travel, and your own food. You usually get comped in for the con itself, but that’s about it. If you’re a published author, you’re usually bringing books, and maybe something for the freebie table, or ribbons, or other swag, and you pay for all of that. It’s not something to do lightly.
And yet, if you have the option to go, even just as an attendee, I highly recommend it, and here’s why: you get to hang with your tribe. This is a group of people who are interested in many of the things that you are, who understand things like “My characters won’t talk to me,” or “I need to write and there’s this thing called work that won’t let me,” or “What, doesn’t everyone stay up until 3 am researching black holes for two sentences in a novel?” (I hear you, I hear you, and yes, they do, if they’re writers.) Cons let you come together and hang out and brainstorm and talk shop and, for the most part, they’re awesome. There are downsides, of course. There are people who seem to delight in being superior to anyone who isn’t published by one of the Big 5 publishers, and people who are downright creepy about everything. You find that in any group of people. This is where I find, for the most part, that cons are different.
Before I go further, I’m a cis white female, and I’m middle-aged, and not the typical “sexy geek girl” that the jerks seem to prefer to creep on, so I’ve got some more privilege than some of the folks who attend cons. In some ways, that’s why I feel safer going to cons, because I fell in with people who have my back, and I know it. I’ve tried over the years to extend my privilege by letting my friends know that I’m a safe person to go with, and I will absolutely back anyone up if they come over and say, “Hey, I’m feeling uncomfortable because of this guy/girl and can I hang out with you?” Come on over. I’m the one with blue hair, a stuffed cat, a tea cup holster and probably knitting or embroidering. I don’t care if I don’t know you. I’ll pretend we’ve been friends forever. Also, if you need someone to back you up while you tell the creep to go away, I can be backup too. I look soft, but I fight dirty if need be. And if you just need a hug, a cup of tea, or to snuggle with Schrodinger while you calm down, I’m here for that too.
This got longer than I meant, and it veered in a direction I wasn’t expecting, but that too is part of the con experience.
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