Tuesday 27 September 2016

Savour your small victories

FantasyCon 2016  - FantasyCon By T'Sea

For the last few days I've been up North at that there FantasyCon and had a splendid time.


The Grand Hotel (from the beach) - 

I was in Room 00001 deep, deep in the bowels of the hotel - the last window on the left, at the bottom - there would have been a nice view of the beach if the window wasn't so encrusted with filth... the food at the hotel was, er, interesting and the clientele odder than the con-goers (including Brexit man and man telling anti-American jokes) and boy was the Royal Ballroom swampy! But they got the basics right (for me) and I have stayed in worse places!

The Grand Lobby

There were books (including mine)

The Grimbold book table

There were readings (including mine - for which there is no photographic evidence)

BFS award nominee Steven MPoore

The Glasgow SF Writers group

There were panels. Including mine which was a fun one, ably moderated by Alasdair Stuart and which ranged over a wide array of superhero related topics. It was very early in the morning, which is what saved me Friday night - I'd visited a few things with free alcohol but managed to get to bed at a reasonable time so was relatively OK on Saturday...

There were awards

Gemmel Award winner Pete Newman

The (very hot) BFS Awards

Congratulations to all the Gemmell and BFS award winners!

There was karaoke (no photos or videos to spare the guilty)

And, of course, there were many, many conversations in the bar.

One such conversation, far too late on Sunday evening, fuelled by alcohol and quite maudlin, has prompted the title of this post. A few fellow authors - two English, on Italian, one Polish, one Maltese, one Scottish and one who lived in Sweden, sat discussing everything from ancient Egyptian mythology to the Black death to antibiotic-resistant bacteria to exoplanets to Easter Island to, oh many other things, you get the idea. Authors being the modern polymaths, interested in everything really do have the most fascinating conversations.

One conversation we had though, or a sub-conversation, was about why we put ourselves through being writers. Pouring heart and soul into a piece of work only for it to get rejected by all and sundry. To spend literally years writing a book and then struggle to get it published, then struggle to market it then struggle with reviews when it's finally published. Not everyone can win awards, or be nominated for them or even get a publishing deal with the big publishers. And that's why we should celebrate the small victories, and savour them as much as possible. It was fantastic to see friends nominated for awards, and brilliant seeing friends win awards. But I'm so far away from that right now (if I'd even ever get there!) Hence the small victories.

When I got a story published in an anthology for the first time (Airship Shape) I saw that as the first of many, my expectation was that arrogant (thankfully, humbly, other people have subsequently liked my work enough to publish it, for which I am grateful) but another friend, also with his first published story in the same anthology said something at the launch which made me change my expectations, and my attitude. He said - "I am determined to enjoy this experience, because it may never happen again."

And so I always try (sometimes I don't succeed) to enjoy the small victories, as well as the large ones. My small victories this weekend were that I was on the program (doesn't always happen at every Con I go to), I did a reading and the audience was in double figures (better than last time I did a reading at FantasyCon), I sold two books (not a massive amount - but better than not selling any books) and I got to meet and talk to an amazing bunch of industry folk. Some I knew already (including two of the guests of honour), some I didn't.

Being a writer may be hard, and it may occasionally be bleak, but that really does mean that when there are moments of joy you should make the most of them. But like a drug addict you always seem to need another hit, and bigger hits too. Another story is sold? Is it to a more prestigious outlet than the last? Just signed a deal on a new book? Is it a better deal than last time, is it for a better book? etc. Don't be content, use any discontent you have as a spur - "oh they rejected that story? They won't reject the next one!" but do celebrate any victory, however small...

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