How it is only four months until GRL? That’s crazy! It really doesn’t feel like any time has passed at all since my first GRL back in Chicago in 2014. I was so incredibly nervous going to my first GRL, but to any authors out there thinking the same thing, I’ll offer this totally unsolicited advice:
If you ever get the chance to go to a convention, take it. Not just for the workshops and the networking, but for the chance to actually meet fans. I’m not actually sure I have the words to explain what an absolute thrill it is when someone says, “Oh! I love your books!”
Writing, to me, is something that happens late at night, usually when I’m in my pyjamas. It’s a thing I do to entertain myself, primarily. The idea that it might entertain others is so far removed from the process that it doesn’t feel real.
Until Chicago, writing was an online activity for me. I communicated with my publishers, editors, co-writers and readers through email, Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes parcels of books arrived in the mail and I get stowed in the box under the bed in the spare room, but that’s as real as it ever got. Until Chicago.
Until I was sitting at a table and there were people lined up in front of it, with books for me to sign. My books. Also, I had to remember to sign in my pseudonym, which was fun! And some people actually wanted pictures taken with me. And—get this—some people actually got flustered when talking to me, because they were nervous. Ha! Nervous of meeting me! I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before in my life.
Suddenly, my perspective shifted. Writing isn’t just a solitary something that I do now. That part of it—the part where I eat Barbecue Shapes and sing loudly along to Aussie rock from the 1980s—is only a very small part of the big picture.
Meeting fans—readers who are as excited about your stories as you are—is so much fun, and I hope I never get tired of it. And seeing the big picture inspires me to keep writing, and, most importantly, to keep my enthusiasm for writing. Because even though writing is becoming more and more like a job for me, it’s also a complete privilege to be in a position to write and be published.
And while it’s incredible to meet fans, it’s just as incredible to meet other writers, and discover that they’re not as intimidating as you thought they would be! GRL doesn’t scare me anymore. I’m not just going there to meet strangers this time. I’m going there to meet friends I haven’t seen in a while, and I can’t wait.
This will be my fourth GRL, and while I’m still quietly terrified of public speaking and will probably stutter my way through most of the conversations I have, I’m also going to have a lot of fun.
If you’re going to GRL in Denver this year, I hope to see you there.