I suppose I am in an enviable position for this Con, in that the wonderful people at New Writing South have given me a grant to attend the event, covering Con ticket, hotel and train fare. But with privilege comes responsibility: I can’t merely enjoy Fcon, I have to be able to show that my attendance benefits my writing career. But how to do that? By attending all the panels and taking detailed notes? I’ve done that already. Or by schmoozing and sucking up to as many influential people as I can? Not really my style, that.
I think it’s a question of balance, and trying to find it. I’ve marked a fair few panels, readings and launches on the programme; I’ll learn what I can and pick up tips at the first of these – and that doesn’t have to be a solitary process anyway – and be at my most sociable at the other. And at least I have a good starting basis of friendships, mostly established online but renewed at previous Cons, and there are some people who I’ve come to value as really good friends, that I’ll be meeting in person for the very first time: therein lies the true beauty of these events, and social media (when used wisely).
I scored a couple of sociability own goals last week, though: a combination of poor planning and childcare availability caused me to miss James Barclay’s talk at Winchester University, and V.H. Leslie’s Skein and Bone book launch in Portsmouth. So having missed them in my own back yard, I now have to go halfway up the country to catch up with them.
And the other socialibility dilemma is the Con Bar, seen by many as the true heart of the Con experience. I may have enjoyed a session or three in my twenties, but I’m a very reluctant drinker now. However, I don’t want to look like a killjoy, and I may need something to overcome my shyness.
Whatever it is, I may need to find it within myself: I woke up yesterday with an ear infection, and the doctor has given me ear drops and antibiotics, along with a stern telling off for washing my hair by dunking it in the bath, and an even sterner one for using cotton buds (don’t do it kids). So on the one hand I have the drinking question taken out of my control, on the other, if you are speaking to me and I seem to be ignoring you, move from my left side to my right and I might be able to hear you.
At least my other ailment seems to be easing. I suffered a major stubbed toe last week which gave me a nasty cut, ugly bruising and almost removed the nail. I’ve had to cancel a couple of runs, and thought I had no hope of making the FCon disco. As someone who hasn’t set foot on a dancefloor all year, that’s a big deal for me.
So as much as I have a plan it’s this: learn from the panels, go to my friends’ readings, buy their books, dance like I mean it, and make every moment count.