I’m thinking about going to World Fantasy Con. I’ve never gone before, mostly because I’ve always thought of that particular con as being primarily for pros. And though last year I finally became a pro by SFWA standards via short stories, I still didn’t think I was pro “enough” for WFC. I mean, what if the halls were filled with published novelists all standing around and asking each other, “So, when’s your next book out?”
…Yeah, OK. I didn’t really think that.
Well. Maybe a little.
In this case, regardless, I think I should go. My agent suggested it last year when it was in New York state, and partly because of finances I decided against it. This year I think it’s a good investment, and I have enough saved up to do it… but that means I have to schmooze.
Now, here’s the funny thing. In my dayjob? I schmooze all the time. I’m literally a professional schmoozer. I think I’m pretty good at it, actually. I tend to be a better communicator in written form than verbally, because sometimes I get tongue-tied, especially when I’m nervous or in a group of fast talkers. I’m a slow talker; it’s a Southern thing. But I can usually overcome this with no trouble in order to sell my product… as long as that product isn’t me.
When it is me, I get more nervous, and more tongue-tied, and my natural shyness — which rarely crops up elsewhere in my life — rachets up by a factor of 100. My internal monologue drowns out whatever I’m trying to say verbally. For example:
Nora: (out loud) Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Nora.
Nora: (in her head) Ohcrap do I have spinach in my teeth? Did I say it, or spray it? What does (other person) think of my approach? Do I sound like a dork?
Other person: Oh, nice to meet you, Nora. ::small talk:: So, are you a writer?
Nora: (out loud) Yeah, I have some short stories published, and a book coming out soon. I publish as N. K. Jemisin.
Nora: (in her head) NOBODY KNOWS WHO THE HELL I AM AND WHY WOULD THEY CARE?! I should just go sit down in a corner somewhere.
Nora: (eventually goes and sits down in a corner, depressed)
This is why I’d kind of decided not to do any cons this year. It was partly a financial decision — I spent waaaay too much on cons last year, and even though it’s tax deductible it’s still a serious pinch — and partly logistics, but partly just the fact that I’ve spent the past 5 years going to cons to “network”, and I’m not sure how useful it’s been. I have met some good people, and made new friends. I’ve been on some panels, joined some con committees (Readercon for awhile, and Wiscon), had a lot of fun. But did this actually do anything for my career? How the heck would I know, if it did?
Well, the book deal means I need to start conning again. I don’t mind; I kind of hated not going to Wiscon this year. But am I going to be any less of a basket case if I go? Especially now that the stakes are higher?
::sigh:: Well, just going to have to suck it up. And practice my relaxation techniques.
So — see you folks in a con hallway somewhere. =)