Tales from Radcon 2016 and a Question

2016-02-13 12.20.50Now that I’m getting over the con-crud I thought it was time to share what happened at RadCon with everyone, and what I took away for myself from it.

First: Radcon was amazing! So many amazing things happened, so many new friends, so much new information. Gregg and I had to take some time to process it all. It’s been a week and the excitement of RadCon wore off a little bit, but the knowledge and encouragement are still working.

For Gregg this was a moment of validation. He won the best in fantasy for the masquerade, then he was invited to stand up at a panel and talk about his armor, and the road to it’s completion. He had several of the speakers (men and women currently working in prop/armor making for TV and movies) there oh-ing and ah-ing over his armor. Then they invited him to be on a panel next year as a full member. It was overwhelming. Gregg might have done a happy dance a few times, and then just collapsed from sheer joy.

It was so amazing to watch him transform from the unsure, self critical person he had been into this massive beast of a man walking through the crowds with his head held high, clad head to toe in red and black armor that he made with his own two hands. The pride, the smile, the final moment when he could say “I did something great!”

Sure, there are still little imperfections that bother him, little things that stand out as “I need to fix that.” Every creator has that little voice in the back of their mind saying those things, and we wouldn’t want to make our stuff better if we didn’t. But…as one of the panelists (a man who works on Grimm) said “There is only one person who sees all the little mistakes, and that’s you. Everyone else just looks at the overall piece.” (paraphrased, of course.)

I watched his transformation with pride, and happiness…and maybe a little jealousy. I realized that I needed that same transformation for myself. The same validation that yes, I am a good writer, and yes I’m on the right path. And I realized that I didn’t know how to get there. For me…it was a moment to realize that I need to get my shit together and figure out what the hell I’m doing.

So for the past week, while I’ve been battling con-sars, I’ve been thinking about my writing career, where it’s going, and what pieces I want or need to change.

First of all, The Bradbury Challenge has been a fantastic thing for me to do. NaNoWriMo has it’s good points, especially in learning to write faster and let go of the inner critic, but the Bradbury Challenge focuses on finishing things, and really need that emphasis on getting things done.

I haven’t been doing well. It’s been seven weeks and I’ve completed three stories. That’s not a story a week. This week I had a good excuse. First the convention, then a horrible head cold that knocked me out for three days, and left me incapable of writing. But what about all the other weeks? What excuse did I have then? And were they really good enough?

Now the truth is I have written almost every day since November first, and accomplishment in itself. I put down 6.4 thousand words on my novel last month, getting it closer to publication. I wrote 11k more on the short stories I worked on. But I didn’t finish all of the Bradbury stories. I didn’t send them to my newsletter as I promised. And this month I’ve only written 5k so far.

I should at least be continuing with a story if I fail to finish it the week previously. Instead I have come up with new stories every week since January first, and written plots and paragraphs for all of them. I LOVE the idea phase of a story a thousand percent more then actually finishing a story. Brainstorming is second nature to me, and if I get an awesome idea for a novel I have no problem jotting down 3-5000 words in a couple hours on that idea.

But ideas don’t make a career. Ideas are just that…ideas. They have no form, no function, and no monetary value. If all of my stories stay ideas I get nowhere. I get no actual career.

This, I think, is what I saw with Gregg and his armor. At the end he was sleep deprived and his body was screaming for relief. He kept telling me about pains in muscles he didn’t know existed, or his hands cramping, or being surprised he didn’t break something when he hit his hand with a mallet. But he kept going. He wanted to finish that armor. Not just a few pieces, he wanted the whole set.

Do I want my writing career even half as much as he wanted that?

It is no surprise that they invited him back to speak at the conference. It is no surprise that he had many people in his industry talking to him, encouraging him, and telling him how truly awesome he was, and is. Because he is amazing! He has persistence, and he has a passion, a real hunger, for his craft.

Do I? Or is this more of a hobby that I just enjoy when I’m not playing video games? I don’t think it’s a hobby, but then again, where are the finished products?

That’s the question I’m going to be asking myself the next couple of weeks as I am working on my short stories, and finishing things. I’m not at 100% yet, still recovering from this sickness, and still very, VERY, tired. But that’s nothing but an excuse, and I know it.

So are my passions bigger than my excuses? Time to put up or shut up, I think.

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The Price of Admission

We got back from Radcon a few days ago, and then I came down with a horrible sickness. For me being sick means I need to sleep, and sleep a lot, to the point where it’s almost impossible to stay awake.

So for the past two days I’ve been barely able to speak, an d stay awake. I’ve been awake now for a couple hours so I think I’m on the mend, but even as I type this I can tell I need to go back to sleep. YAY CONCRUD!

But it was so worth it! The convention was amazing, and Gregg was impressive. You can see a lot of pictures from the convention over onĀ his instagram, and a bunch more on my instagram.

I started writing a blog post about the experience and everything that happened. I’ll have to come back tomorrow and finish that. For right now I think it’s time to go take another stab at writing a short story before crashing again.

But here are two photo’s to wet your whistle. Me, as Velma, posing with a furry Scooby Doo, and Gregg in the awesome red armor that he made getting compliments from Dragon Dronet. More on that later.

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Pity Party, Table for One

I have really been hanging out in the dull drums lately, and I’ve been trying to figure out why so I can kick the thing that’s encouraging me to be there. It’s like this little monster sitting on the edge of a pit, and every time I pull myself up he bites my knuckles and I fall back down again.

But… why? What is this little monster that keeps nipping at my heels? Why does it suddenly find my fingers so tasty?

I think it’s because I’ve been lathering my nuckels with salt and pepper just for his amusment. Someone kick me while I’m down? That’s okay, lets feel sorry for ourselves. It’s just a teaspoon of salt. Someone get that bonus I knew I couldn’t get? That’s another tablespoon of butter. (Because everything tastes better with butter, right?)

I’m reminded of Johnny B Truants little book, “The Universe Doesn’t Give a Flying ‘F’ About You“. That person at work didn’t know I could have used that bonus. That customer didn’t know I was already in the dull drums and their harsh words just hurt that much more. All they knew was they “deserved it”, and they “earned it”. How dare that person get in my way.

What if I had gotten the bonus? What if that customer didn’t snap at me? Would I still be chilling on the ice shelf that is called “eh, good enough”?

When people kick you, run you over, and get in your way, you can salt and butter your fingers and let that little devil push you back in the pit that is the dull drums… or you can say to hell with it all, and stop playing the game.

The truth is, that little devil is only a few inches tall. Sure, he has sharp teeth, and they hurt, but if you stop just wincing in pain and dropping back into the pit then there is a really good chance you can fling that little demon off into next week. Then when you catch up to him you just fling him again. Eventually you’ll get stronger, and you’ll be able to fling him into next month, next year, or maybe next decade.

The real secret? Get off that icy shelf called “good enough”. Do something. Learn something. Apply for a new job. Stop salting your fingers and start putting on metal gauntlets with huge metal spikes.

The universe isn’t going to hand you a completed book, or a finished painting. It isn’t going to turn off the game and turn on the camera. It isn’t going to send a knight in shiny armor to save you.

SAVE YOURSELF! First from yourself, then from the little demons biting at your fingers.

Now I’ve got writing to do!