This could also be subtitled “Conning the Summer Away,” or “Working Hard and Playing Harder…,” but as school starts up again, I’m starting tired as hell. This is less a complaint and more a statement of fact. I’ve done some great things this summer, I’ve learned a lot and now that school is starting, I’m finding that I’m finally getting to that mental space where creativity is not only possible, it’s inevitable.
I started in June with a trip to ConCarolinas, my local sci-fi/fantasy/writing/gaming convention. This is a great (little) convention held in North Charlotte and it’s become something of a personal tradition. I started going more for the gaming, but the last few years, I’ve been more focused on the writing track. That’s not a slight against the gaming in any respect; I’ve had the opportunity to play all kinds of things I’d never have gotten a chance to play otherwise (including Little Fears, which is probably one of my favorite RPG’s to date), but more a shift in focus. ConCarolinas allows for smaller crowds and attendees have a great opportunity to interact with writers, panelists and avoids the crazy lines that come with those “can’t miss” events. Granted, in 2014, George RR Martin will be a headliner, so this is likely to change, but the fact remains that it’s the crowd from Magical Words that has drawn my attention over and over. They are an inspirational, quirky, engaging, funny, intelligent, and experienced crowd and they freely share their knowledge with n00bs like me, something that is invaluable. I always walk away with pages of notes and tons of inspiration.
This June, I also had the good fortune to attend the World Horror Convention and the Bram Stoker Awards dinner in New Orleans. It was a huge perspective shift and an unmatched opportunity to meet, greet and talk with people like Jonathan Maberry, John Joseph Adams, Caitlin Kiernan, Mort Castle, Tom Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, and a lot more. I got a lot of swag, a lot of signatures, a lot of ideas and useful information, and a connection that resulted in acceptance to the Borderlands Press BootCamp in January. I’m so freaking excited about this, I can’t begin to express it without a lot of girly squealing and butt-wiggling dancing.
Through both of these, I was still cramming in school, but that finally relented in July. Since then, I’ve attended and helped throw an epic birthday party, spent time with my BFF, crammed in more work than any one person should do, and at then, I tackled Dragon*Con for the first time. That was…an experience. I’ve seen pictures and I had an expectation of what it would be like, and I wasn’t far from what I thought, but there’s a big difference between what one imagines they will see, and actually seeing Sauron shake his groove thing to Timberlake’s Sexyback. Or to walk through a crowded hotel lobby as a crowd of attendees are singing about sweet transvestites. Or what it’s like to sit in front of a panel that includes authors of mythic fame that it’s hard not to be starstruck even if you’re not a huge fan.
As crazy as all of this was, what I realized that this was a way of refreshing and re-energizing after a tough semester. Throughout the break, I’ve been writing in drips and drabs, and while it’s been decent, it’s not been spectacular or impassioned in any real way. I did this for a reason. Instead of trying to force myself to produce writing (including blog posts, reading and reviews), I decided to give myself a break. Instead of pushing myself, I played around with words like Legos, snapping them together, messing around with odd shapes, pulling them apart, but nothing serious. Instead, I let ideas simmer for some projects I’ve been mulling over and I practiced with perspective, character development and other things, but none of it amounted to a story. Until tonight. One of the ideas I’ve been toying with finally came together when the men in the basement moved the right boxes around and it all fell into place. It was so beautiful how it clicked – and the passion of the moment was there. I had to pull over and jot it down to not lose it, and I filled a half a page with a synopsis in about 3 minutes.
The timing could not be worse.
My classes start tonight and I’m behind on finishing up the month at work because I took time off to enjoy the madness of Dragon*Con.
Now, I have a story that is urgent and pressing against the inside of my skull and I’m juggling the blinding desire to write along with the ethical need to complete the month in fairness to my agents at work, and the need to do homework to not fall behind. Inspiration, sweet, divine Inspiration, you are a cruel, unyielding, untimely, and sadistic bitch, and I love you so…
This is going to be a really tough month. This story will be written. There is no other option.