Can Con Reflection: Day 3

The final day of Can Con was as much a whirlwind as the previous two, partly because of how worn out I was from what I’ve already discussed. The schedule for Sunday wasn’t quite as packed or hectic as Friday or Saturday, but there was still quite a bit going on, and it was just as exciting and enlightening.

A Morning with Guest of Honor Jo Walton

Like on Saturday, my first stop Sunday morning was a workshop. This time, it was a character-focused workshop led by Writer Guest of Honor Jo Walton. I had actually never heard of Ms. Walton prior to Can Con, despite her acclaim, so I had no idea what to expect. At her request, I’m not going to describe anything specific about the workshop itself, since its success is dependent on the participants not knowing what’s going to happen before they begin. What I will tell you is that the workshop focused on character generation in a large-group setting, which was neat for me because so much of my writing is done with input from a close circle of friends and mentors. The best part of the workshop was the way that Ms. Walton challenged us to rethink our characters by posing arguably simple questions like “Does your character have to be male?” and “Why is that object important to your character?” The other really enlightening thing was seeing how character leads directly to world and plot. I’ve noticed that a lot of my short fiction lately has stemmed from ideas about worlds and concepts, and my characters are designed to interact with them – though it seems to be the opposite with the novel I just finished. My goal now is to strengthen my short fiction characters using the strategies that Ms. Walton demonstrated.

After the workshop, I was fortunate to be invited by Ms. Walton to sit down for one of Can Con’s Kaffeeklatches. Each Guest of Honor holds one of these during the convention, where a small group of guests has the chance to sit with them and talk about writing, editing, or whatever. You’re supposed to register ahead of time, but when I told Ms. Walton I hadn’t she said I should just stay. Not gonna lie, that was a pretty cool moment. But sitting down for the Kaffeeklatch was even better. You get to learn so much more from an individual in a smaller, intimate setting. We discussed a variety of topics, but one of the most important pieces of advice I walked away with is to aim high. As a writer, the work you put out there needs to be the best, and you should strive for the highest level of success possible. In other words, Hugo award here I come! 🙂 Seriously, though, I had an amazing time learning from Ms. Walton, and I hope we cross paths again somewhere in the future.

An Afternoon with Guest of Honor Gabrielle Harbowy

The afternoon found me in a reading with Guest of Honor Gabrielle Harbowy, who I’ve mentioned in my previous reflections. She was reading from her forthcoming Pathfinder Tales novel, which is slated for release in 2016. Though I’ve played Pathfinder before – I’m mainly immersed in D&D right now – I’ve never read any of the related novels, and had actually never planned on looking into them. But I’m getting a copy of this novel when it comes out. The section Gabrielle read was entertaining and intriguing, and I was immediately hooked by both of her main protagonists. Though it’s going to be a long wait for the book to be released, there is a related short story called Inheritance available on the Paizo website. If you’re a fan of Pathfinder or you like good fantasy, definitely check it out.

After the reading I headed upstairs to the penthouse suite that Can Con had secured for guests to relax and snack. I ended up sitting down with Gabrielle and some of the other writers I’d met over the weekend, and we spent the last hour of the convention chatting about writing and other stuff. In retrospect, it was a great way to end the weekend. Casual conversation is probably one of my favorite things to do, and it was nice to be talking with a group of other writers, which is something I rarely have the opportunity to do. Though I came into Can Con feeling incredibly nervous and out of place surrounded by “real” writers, by Sunday I was feeling like I was surrounded by my peers.

My only regret from Sunday is that I wasn’t able to attend the screening and then promotional panel for Jay Odjick’s new television series, Kagagi. I’ve seen the promos now on YouTube, and it looks like a phenomenal show. Check out the promos, and if it looks like something you’d be into, the show airs on APTN on Sunday mornings.

And then that was that. Convention done, notes and ideas and contact information transferred to my office, and then back to the real world. All in all, Can Con was a really great time. I learned a lot, met a lot of amazing writers and editors, and I already can’t wait for next year!

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