When Words Collide, a Calgary readercon is wrapping up as I write this at home, huddled under the weight of so much stuff.
First of all, if you are part of the reading, writing, publishing, editing world, you need to be part of this. Follow the link, sign up for next year. I have already.
I suppose that tells you all you need to know about what I think of it, but I'm going to unpack it a little more. There are many reasons to attend this conference, but the primary one is contacts. You get a chance to meet the people all along the transaction chain that starts with a crazy idea, and ends up with a reader telling their buddy, "this is the most awesome book ever, you have to read it!"
It doesn't matter if you are like me, struggling to bring together a mass of words into a coherent story, or a pro writer with some writing credentials, or a publisher, or an editor, the chance to chat with your peers is invaluable. There's a saying, "at the top of the pyramid, everybody knows everybody." Conferences like this are one of the major ways it happens, and it doesn't matter if you are competitors, technically speaking. You all have an interest in making the industry bigger and better.
There are 11 streams of programming, across 20 hours for about 220 different sessions in two different buildings. Some are sign up in advance, some are short pitch sessions or other private editorial interactions, but almost all are open to all Colliders. If you can't find something of interest in all this, you are in the wrong place. For most people, the difficulty is in choosing between conflicting programming choices.
Of course there is a banquet, which I've never attended so I can't comment. Plus awards, and guest of honour speeches, and all that stuff. Autograph sessions. Guest readings. Many book sellers. Plus all sorts of stuff that happens along the way. The organizers have done a stellar job putting it all together!
Last year I had something going each day, all day. This weekend I wasn't feeling up to that much activity so I scaled back a bit and attended only 11 sessions over the weekend. Some were brilliant! I was a little nervous when the first presenter started with a slide show, but it was good. He didn't read from the slides, which is the cardinal sin in presentations. He was well organized, cogent, and brought some energy to the presentation, which just happened to be one of particular interest to me. This is all gold for me, and was worth the price of admission. You rock, Adam Dreece!
I won't go through all the others one by one, but I know one that I didn't get much out of was raved about by a group I overheard. Fair enough. Some of it was me, in that I was feeling a little run down and anti-social this weekend. Maybe it has to do with being at work a month longer than I expected to be.
There are people who live here in Calgary that rent a room so they don't have to waste travel time back to their home. This also gives them a place to flop in the unlikely event of a quiet hour. I haven't done that yet, but if I had a novel to find a home for, or was on a bunch of panels, I might consider it.
Each year I say I'll get that novel in shape to pitch next year. Next year. I'm going to have a lot more time starting in September, so here I am, saying I'm going to have something to pitch for next year. Wish me luck, and see you there!