For the past couple weeks I was working pretty intensely on setting up the Denver Comic Con Literary Track (getting authors on panels, scheduling, etc). This all came to a crescendo this weekend, during which time I was in the 200s Hall all three days (mostly room 205) meeting authors, making sure everything was running smoothly, and keeping panels running on time. It was an amazing experience!
When I first attended Comic Con I felt lost. I had no idea what to do. What exactly is the attraction here? It was too free-form and chaotic. Everyone else was cool and excited, I was just awkward and nervous. Eventually I left. I didn’t feel like I fit in.
The next year I volunteered, at a friend’s request (she said they really needed the help). I was a low-level gopher working Crowd Control, but I finally had a reason to be there. I had a job! An excuse to be where I was! And instant “friends” in my coworkers and supervisors. That structure and support made all the difference, and I came back a second day despite having not signed up for it initially.
I am now aware, several years later, that the way to go to a con is to get a group of friends who all want to go and go as a group. It’s a fun social experience for all of you, hanging out and going to see occasional attractions you’re all excited about, and generally treating it like a mobile party. I kinda wish someone had told me that in the past. But OTOH I’m glad I didn’t know, because it led to this volunteering thing which, over the course of a few years, led me to my Literary Coordinator position.
And I gotta say – wow. There were SOOO MANY awesome people I got to meet because of this! It was a ton of work getting everyone sorted (hours every week for several months, in addition to the three 10-hour days at DCC itself), but it was ridiculously worth it. Honestly it was actually too much – some people I barely got to see. But I did manage to have a fair bit of interaction with a handful of people who were absolutely fantastic to hang with! I am sad that many of them don’t live in Colorado, I hope to see them again soon.
It was also really inspiring. I got to moderate three panels. The first time you stand up on a podium in front of 100-200 people and have to entertain them for 50 minutes – DAMN is that terrifying! But so freakin’ exhilarating, and SO MUCH WIN when you pull it off! All three of my panels went very well, and I am extremely proud. I’ll be posting audio of them later this week/early next week (and eventually video, once that becomes available). But I digress – the inspiration part! So far I’m barely published. I want to be like the people on my panels. Even like the few who were just breaking into writing and introduced themselves with “And here is my first book!” I’ve been dithering about, not starting my first novel for several months now, because it’s a long and scary process and I dunno if I can do it. No more! Time to get this project underway!
I learned a lot of things over the course of the weekend, about panel coordination and running a con. I won’t bore y’all with them, since that’s probably not why you’re here. But more than anything else I found out that coordination is hard, and coordination on they fly is EXTREMELY hard. The best thing to do (whenever possible) is to have plans made before hand, drill them repeatedly, make sure everyone knows about them (good lord, I was surprised how much communication failures are a huge problem!) and then stick to the plan as much as possible. There’ll be plenty of crises that come up naturally, there’s no call to go creating more of our own. :)