Eastercon is usually a time for me to get enthused for the months ahead. It’s the start of the convention season and usually a time when I’m working toward completing things. Two years ago, when I was last here, I was promoting The Four Realms with a massive hole in my leg. Last year, I missed Eastercon to go on my big storm chasing adventure, telling everyone that I was in Scotland with the day job.
This year, I came prepared.
I’d finished the rough draft of 4S earlier in the week so was in the post completion glow/confusion that completing a novel brings. I’d missed my hope of getting to quarter of a million words written before April, but only just, so felt compelled to get that done, finding little projects here and there to write to boost up my word count by the 4k needed to hit the big 250k. It’s the first time this year I’ve specifically chased word count but it was nice to begin Eastercon with this milestone under my belt.
As a consequence I went into this Eastercon not so much focused on trying to get the enthusiasm for the months ahead so much as celebrating all I’d accomplished so far. I felt much more relaxed as a result, treating the weekend as my reward for having worked so hard the first quarter of the year.
Usually I go to Eastercon to hear about what everyone else was up to. This year, I had plenty to tell. The response to even little follies like my Tornado Press experiment was incredibly positive and I came away convinced that my strategy, as alien as it might seem to some people, is the correct one and will pay dividends down the road. People may marvel at the word count but I think a few learned just how much else I’d been working on in-between.
It’s always great to speak to other writers to see what they are up to, share lessons learnt, and learn new things. There was a time when I went to Eastercons and never knew anyone. Now, it’s hard to find time to catch up with everyone I want to.
I always enjoy hanging out with the Glasgow SF Writers group. You only have to see how many of their writers get published to know it’s a very productive group and one I am envious of. It would be great to get Swindon up to this level but I’m aware of just how much hard work it would be. Still it was impossible not to hang around Neil, Brian and Cameron (and by proxy, Rob who I always consider part of that group though he’s not) without getting infected with the sheer creative energy that group has.
Then there was how great it was to chat with author friends like CE Murphy and Steve Aryan. They’re each at different stages of their writing careers and there’s much to learn from both of them.
It was great to catch up with Gav and have to pitch our latest novels to him. It was a fun exercise and has certainly helped in the week since when I’ve been prepping some submissions to go out.
It was great to finally meet Ben Galley. He’s doing some exciting things in the independent space and just confirms to me that I think that independent authors are going to be very much a part of the landscape of genre publishing going forward.
David Tallerman and myself exchanged some late night advice. Hopefully my advice to him was as helpful as his advice was to me.
Then it was just great to catch up with others such as Pete and Emma Newman,.
But if the weekend belonged to one person, it was to Ruth Booth. I’ve known her for a few years now, known she was a fantastic writer and was beyond pleased to see her win the BSFA award for best short story. After all the nastiness of the Hugos, seeing good people do well was the perfect antidote.
Sunday saw my storm chasing panel. I’d put a lot of effort into it so was relieved that not only did it go well but that the room was packed as well. Thanks to everyone who took part, and thanks to Cameron and Ruth for taking photos for me.
Finally on Monday, my sword fighting instructor, Fran, co-presented a panel on swash buckling. I took some photos for the benefit of the school, but even though a lot of the information was known to me it was an enjoyable and informative panel and was fun seeing people picking up swords for the first time and getting excited about them.
I come away from most Eastercons with a sense of what I need to do. Seeing Ruth win the BSFA award for short story, just reinforced her positive comments about my own short stories. Whilst I’m nowhere near as good as her and still need to develop that aspect of my writing craft a lot, I want to write a short a month.
The second point span out of that. On some things I’ve been very bad at submitting. I’m sometimes too busy looking for faults to see the positives and so I need to combat that and start submitting a large body of work I’ve built up. Perhaps in the first quarter I’ve been busy prioritising the creation of new material over putting submissions together, but now I have a production line going, I need to have a constant flow of things out on submission. Given how quickly I’m currently writing, I’m probably going to have two more pieces ready before anyone has time to consider the first.
So I come away from Eastercon not only tired but validated. I’m doing the right things and need to continue them into the next quarter. Sadly it looks like it’ll be a while before I can go to another convention and do it all again but I’ll look forward to it nonetheless. Hopefully I’ll have just as much progress to show for it as I have in the first quarter of this year.