General

The Only “Conventions” I Care About…

I was tagged with this on Instagram by a social media writing acquaintance/friend. Yes, I know many love this sort of gathering. They enjoy the buzz and are energized by the “camaraderie”:

[From Instagram.]

And if so they will also always come up with a good reason… YOU JUST HAVE TO GO TOO!

Ugh.

Mingling between stalls, small-talking, and exchanging contacts from our phones, and joining in the likes of publisher symposiums? Kill me now. I dread small talk with strangers and in person efforts at self-promotion; in academia and in other lines of work I’ve already done enough of that sort of “conferencing” to last a lifetime. To be honest, I write so I don’t have to “work a room” and engage in conversations like these:

“Uh, I’ve heard your book is really good although I’ve never heard of it, and could even be a movie as if it matters what the hell I think and I don’t know much about sci-fi beyond Star Trek and Star Wars, and, oh, and I’m sending you my web site right now too even though you couldn’t care less about me and will delete it after you walk away… Oh, hello, nice to meet you too. You’re a publisher of young adult dystopia? Romantic/historical/realistic/adventure fiction I write for adults doesn’t sell? I should consider penning gender-neutral end of the world tales? Hmm, yeh, that’s an idea. You have a good afternoon too. You publish your sagas of gender-neutral dystopians driving ancient diesels and I’ll write novels with a shelf life of more than 15 minutes about actual gendered humans who have lived interesting lives, or could have lived them, books I will be proud to have my name on after I’m dead, aimed at readers who dwell in our realistic corner of the galaxy.”

The forced smiles, the pretending to be even slightly interested. I find it all so painfully tedious and even phony. It is also a poor use of time and effort (and even money, because attending such events isn’t free) that is probably far better spent elsewhere… unless, ahem, you were my uncle, that is:

[Excerpt from Passports: Atlantic Lives, 1994-1995, on Kindle for iPhone/iPad. Click to expand.]

Seriously, I’m not inherently anti-social or excessively aloof, or inclined to hermit-hood. I’ve been told (more than once) in person that I’m actually a pleasant person. I’m also “socially” NOT my uncle. I just see little reason for traveling to fairs and conventions to “network” with other authors; I don’t see the usefulness of rubbing elbows within a sea of strangers who are most likely not interested in me or might be only because they are perhaps checking out their “competition.” And as for schmoozing with those in “the book biz,” well, if anyone is actually truly curious about me my books are my “business cards” and are plainly visible in my sidebar here (on this web site that is visible nearly anywhere); and I’m also easily contactable from most anywhere given my email address is also in my sidebar.

I’m happy to be here for actual author friends with whom I know I have things in common: they are friends first and “in the biz” second. In fact, social media is a great place for writers to write about writing given writing is what we do; over the longer term, you can indeed make acquaintances. I’ve had “cyberspace” disagreements with a few authors also and we then just go our separate ways; we aren’t awkwardly stuck in a room together.

My novels are my art and my statements. My blog here and other social media are for “chit-chat,” open to anyone with an internet connection (aside from Twitter, which I’ve “locked”). They contain all any other author or publisher or anyone else “in the biz” needs to know about me.

The only audience I’m interested in spending time with and impressing are my readers. For readers to immerse themselves in my tales, perhaps in doing so forgetting for a while their own cares and troubles and venturing thanks to my pages to distant somewheres they may never have visited, and maybe even finding themselves daydreaming for a few moments about this character or that character: THAT is why I do this.

[Excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris. Paperback. Photo by me, 2019.]

So the only authoring/publishing conventions I care about are… well, uh, the only “gathering” I care about is that most private one between myself as the author and a reader somewhere enjoying that novel and all of my others.

Have a good Tuesday, wherever you are. ๐Ÿ™‚

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