I’m trying to decide whether or not to register for GRL this year. I’m way too late for any kind of an author spot, of course, but there still appears to be room for general attendees. And at least a snowball’s chance of snagging a supporting author’s slot if I get on the wait list. So that’s not the issue.
And I love conventions. Just love ‘em. Thrive on ‘em. I’m like a freaking convention energy vampire, except I don’t drain anybody, I just live off all the free-floating bliss. So that’s not the issue either.
The issue is whether the money would be well-spent. Or, as I tend to frame the question, whether the ‘career’ I have is worth the investment. If I still had every penny I’ve made on all my books since I was first published, and put it toward the cost of attending GRL, I’d be able to pay for my registration, and my gas, and maybe my hotel if I find a couple of roommates. That’s if I’d been banking everything I made for the last four years.
I hesitate to ask “should I even be calling myself an author?” Because in one sense, I already know the answer to that question, and it’s silly to ask it. I AM an author. I have published six novels, three novellas, several short stories, three more novels under contract. And I love to write more than I love just about anything else, kid, cats and computer excepted (and the cats and the computer made me say that). I write, I write every day, and I will continue to write until they put me under the ground (and even then, it would probably be a good idea to dig me up after a little while to see if I scratched anything on the inside of the coffin lid).
Maybe the way to phrase the question is “Am I the KIND of author who should be doing conventions like GRL?” The kind of author for whom a big convention is a good investment. And I’m not sure that’s an answerable question. At least, not for someone who consistently comes up short in the self-confidence department. If I thought I would be ‘discovered’ by a wider audience by showing up at GRL, that would be a factor. But I can’t afford to sink a ton of money into a roll of the dice, and that’s what this feels like it would be, especially if I don’t have an author spot. (And if I DID have an author spot, then it would basically be a much more expensive roll of the dice, as far as I can tell…)
Yes, having a good time is important. (See entry for “free-floating bliss,” above.) But one of my many psychological quirks (it’s what you love about me, come on, admit it) is that it’s almost impossible for me to spend money just to have a good time. Even when I go on vacation, there has to be a reason. I have to accomplish something. Otherwise it’s wasted money. So just going to soak up the bliss isn’t an option.
But… part of the problem I’m having with my writing right now is that I’m not taking myself seriously as an author any more. (An “author” of the out-there-published-with-a-growing-readership kind, not an author of the I-write-because-I-can’t-imagine-NOT-writing kind. That kind, I take seriously.) And I’m trying to figure out how to get that mojo back – and I’m pretty sure one way to do it would be to recharge my batteries with a whole bunch of people who love the same thing I do. But when I’m starting from a place of no self-confidence, what that feels like is spending a ton of money to do something that maybe there’s no point to doing at all. I write because I love to write…. but I publish because I love the thought that there are people out there who love to read what I write. And if I get down to Kansas City, and go through five days of “Rory who? Oh, did you say you write? How nice.”
So to those of you who have already gone to a GRL, or are planning to be in Kansas City… does anything I’ve said resonate with you? Any advice? (Feel free to post below, or on Facebook, or whatever your preferred method of communication might be…)
Many thanks for listening. And we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled hotness anon – promise!