It’s all too easy to think you should always be “on” at conventions and other gatherings of the writerly kind. In most cases, you’ve paid good money to get crammed into a con suite with hundreds of other like-minded souls for a scant few days. The urge to make the most of it, to make this trip be the one that represents your Big Break, can be almost overwhelming. So there you are, pinging way with your active sensors, mentally cataloging all the people you need to talk to, to wow, in order to level up in your writing career.
We’re all so very desperate to get noticed.
But maybe that’s not the way, or at least not the best way. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever have business on the brain when you meet new people. But keep in mind that a lot of your most important connections will be the friends you make in the industry. There won’t be any fanfare when you meet these people, just the natural click of human connection that’s been going on for millennia. And that’s as it should be.
Though we both attended Superstars (albeit in different years) I first met Evan Braun at World Fantasy Convention in Toronto in 2012. We hit it off immediately over a mutual love of The Wheel of Time, but I didn’t think of it as any sort of connection being made beyond a cool new writer I’d met until Evan got in touch with me several months later, asking if I’d do a guest post for this writing blog called Fictorians. Now here we are three years later, and here I am with my latest post as a regular.
I met Joshua Essoe at Superstars 2012 in Las Vegas. We ended up hanging out a fair amount with mutual friends, and thus got to know each other a bit. Last year, when an opening in his schedule lined up, I hired him to edit my upcoming novel Unwilling Souls based on the great feedback I’d gotten about his editing skills and the fact that I knew he was a cool guy and easy to get along with.
I’ve never actually met recent Fictorians guest poster Holly Heisey in person. We’re Facebook friends through mutual friends (I honestly can’t even remember who). This past March I was in a bind as monthly coordinator for the Fictorians site. I’d had a guest poster forced to bail late in the month due to a family emergency, and I needed someone to fill their vacated slot on short notice. The guest who’d been forced to back out would have been a first-time poster, and I was really looking for another first-timer to replace them, so I messaged Holly and she turned in an excellent post just a few days after I got in touch. I remember being impressed by her professionalism and how easy she’d been to work with. So when she announced several months later that she was taking cover art commissions, I got in touch again and hired her to do the cover art for Unwilling Souls. It turned out to be an excellent decision.
Stop worrying so much about who you need to meet and impress in order to keep to your mental schedule of writing ascendancy. Go to places where writers, editors, artists and fans congregate, either online or in person. Think about these places as fun ways to meet other people who like the same things you like. Be nice and open, someone who other people will want to hang around with. If you are so fortunate as to be offered an opportunity by one of those other people, continue being nice and be easy to work with to boot. The path before you will open up without you even being aware of it. Better yet, it will do so with the help of people you like and who like you in return.
Stop trying so hard.
Rocket scientist by day, fantasy and science fiction author by night, Gregory D. Little began his writing career in high school when he and his friend wrote Star Wars fanfic before it was cool, passing a notebook around between (sometimes during) classes. His first novel, Unwilling Souls, will be available later this year. His short fiction can be found in The Colored Lens and the upcoming Game of Horns: A Red Unicorn Anthology. He lives in Virginia with his wife and their yellow lab.