Community

Community

One of the things I’ve really missed out on is the SFF community. Since the rise of the internet I’ve had a one-way peek into it by way of people’s blogs and Twitter. It has reinforced the idea — I’m going to go out on a limb here and just call it a ‘fact’ because I’ve seen it said by so many people, both pro writers and fans — that the heart of the SFF community lies in the cons. The cons which I have never attended.

“Community” in this context is defined this way:

(n.) a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually prec. by the): the business community; the community of scholars.

The SFF community includes readers, writers, artists, actors, and assorted industry professionals. It’s a big community, and from what I’ve read a very supportive one. It includes people working in and consuming different media, from short fiction to novels to comics to television and film. The coolest part, it seems to me, is that there is no line between the people creating the media and those consuming it. It’s just one big tribe, with people playing different roles. And in a lot of cases, people are playing multiple roles, (see John Scalzi, who is a creator of SF, a consumer of SF, and a contributing fan of SF.) Every creator is also a fan.

The closest I’ve come to being a part of it is in my usual Writers Conference. There is one workshop that tends to be more friendly to the SFF folks because the workshop leader was a horror writer for many years, so he understands our idiom and the level of suspension of disbelief that our work requires. Those of us who attend that workshop regularly feel as if we are a part of something distinct from the Writers Conference over all. We’re a little subculture of people who write “weird stuff.” “Oh,” other attendees will say, “you’re one of Matt’s people.” It felt good.

I feel like I’ve been missing out on experiencing that on a larger scale, getting to know people and making friends of a like mind. I’ve known that for a long time — 2003ish I became aware of the convention-going community, and around 2005 I resolved to find one to attend. But as I wrote yesterday there were always reasons not to go.

Being in a screw-the-obstacles-I’m-living-my-dreams mode lately, I looked up the conventions listed in Locus and elsewhere. The World Fantasy Convention caught my eye. It’s a con geared toward the pros, which let’s face it, I hope to be some day. It’s like being one of Matt’s People on a grand scale. I’ve read about it for years, and it’s within reach, in San Jose. I’m excited about the Guests of Honor: I love Garth Nix’s work, and I collect Lisa Snelling’s art. Why not go?

Gainfully employed – check.
Free that weekend – check.
Really want to go – check.
Adult capable of making my own decisions – check.

Huh. Look at that. No reason at all.

Also on my list are Nebula Awards Weekend, DragonCon, and WorldCon. They will have to wait for other years.

If I really need to justify it to myself, I’ll call it my birthday present to me, because it happens to fall on that weekend. I will spend my 38th birthday driving six hours to my first SFF convention. I am not sure it gets much more awesome than that.

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