Sunday 16th April 2017

I’m wondering if this might be the last great convention.  I’ve had a blast this Easter weekend, and it’s felt very business heavy (in a good way) but what’s been noticeable is the absence of pros.  As we said to Steve, he’s probably one of the most high profiles names here this weekend.
The conventions are not cheap.  The rooms alone cost £100 a night.  Add to that hotel priced drink and food and it becomes an incredibly expensive weekend.  As a result, there’s a lot of debate whether people will be going to Fantasycon in the Autumn.
I suspect with Worldcon in Helsinki this year people have made some financial choices about the cons they support, but even given this, there’s a good chance my gang of usual suspects will find travelling to Peterborough too difficult to be willing to attend Fantasycon
Panels no longer have the same appeal for me.  Indeed I spent the whole of yesterday without my badge as I didn’t go into any of the panels or the dealer’s room.  For me, these cons are about connecting up with friends, having a chat and talking industry.  If my friends are not going to be there, I need to ask why I’m attending.
This is a worrying development as cons are really my only opportunity for a reality check.  Are things really going as well as I thought?  Am I just barking mad about where I am in my career?
After Friday being a day of fun and banter, and Saturday being a  reality check, today has been a day for contemplation.  I didn’t even drink heavily yesterday (who could with those bar prices) but I’ve felt tired and lethargic all day.  I even took myself off for a couple of solo walks at points through the day, just to try and clear my head.  We did finally get to TGI Fridays this evening.  I felt so hungry I pretty much ate the place.
What’s been scary and exciting, is that I will come away from the convention tomorrow with a stronger view than ever that everything is going well.  I’ve had that feeling for a while that momentum is building, but friends can see it as well.  I half expected to have them caution against some of the things I’ve got planned, not because any of the ideas are wrong, per say, but because they might have been a little too ambitious.
What I got instead was a huge amount of validation.  The path ahead has some very clear signs that others can see, and even if life tries to trip things up (which it always does) it feels that the path ahead is wide enough to navigate them.
In fact, the only caution I got given is that most novels don’t make enough money to give up the day job until book 4 or 5.  I’m well aware of this and it’s the reason I feel like everything is on tenterhooks, because until I know whether the book sells (and for how much) I can’t seriously plan my future.  As I said tonight, I have a figure I believe the book will go for.  I may be right, I may be wrong.  Any less, and I’ll feel disappointed (being honest).  Any more and I’ll be in shock.
Of course, if it does sell then I might need to start promoting it, but Steve said it’s not possible to claim an entire convention weekend as a business expense.  I would have thought it possible but that’s a discussion for a professional a little further down the path.  However, I think the book is more likely to sell in the US first and therefore, I suspect that the promotion needs to be done there rather than over here.  Which makes the chance for further UK cons looking less and less likely.
These and other things are what I’ve been thinking whilst on my walks.  I would have liked to have choreographed the swordfight but I really need something in my hand to do that and the hotel is too crowded.  I’ve realised that there is a good chance that the editorial notes on Black as Knight will come back this week and so the time I’ve got to finish this novel is quickly dwindling.  That means I really need to get the first book 2 done this week.
Steve went home today and Cam is leaving early in the morning, so Rob and I are planning to pop into Birmingham and have a look around before we head back to our respective homes.  Then it’s seriously back to the grind as I need to go full out.
These conventions are a good way to recharge which is another reason I like coming to them.  They give me clarity and allow me to return home suitably focused.  There’s certainly a lot that’s uncertain about the future that is really occupying my mind.  But I never suspected my attendance at cons to be one of them.
Everything seems to be changing, and I am excited by that change.  But it seems nothing is sacred and the cons whose panels were such a help to me through the early years, the cons where I first met some of my writing friends, and have now acted as a social hub to all meet up, are now surplus to requirement.
It’s a lonely job being a writer, and a career full of doubts.  It’s something this weekend has typically been good at helping put into focus.
I’ll wait until after stormchasing and see if anything has changed, but currently it looks like I may be a no-show for this year’s Fantasycon.  I’ll just have to make sure I do a lot between now and when we do all finally meet again.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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