Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Conferences: Worth Leaving the House for?



By Elizabeth MS Flynn w/a Eilis Flynn
This week I’m recovering from a writers’ conference I attended over the weekend. I gave two workshops and talked to a lot of people and in general did all those things that one does at a conference. And now I’m doing what people do the week after a conference: recover.

Then again, I’m lucky. It’s been a full week and I haven’t come down with anything. “Con-crud,” that indescribable and annoying ailment that hits con-goers almost immediately after the con (a cold, judging by all the symptoms), hits conferees and conventioneers alike. The last time I got hit with it was a while ago, after we hit San Diego Comic-con, but that was truly inevitable with all the hugging of people I hadn’t seen in (some cases) decades. Whether it’s something that gets introduced by someone just catching something, going through something, or getting over something, unless you make a point of not touching anyone or anything and possibly wearing a mask and using latex gloves, unless you are at SDCC or something similar, you’re going to stand out. (That is the advantage of going to a comic convention or cosplay convention or pop culture convention or some such. Wearing a mask and gloves will not make you stand out, not even a cape or a rubber chicken tucked into your belt. At a professional convention or conference, well, you didn’t really like that job, did you?)

Anyway, I haven’t gotten sick after a con since then, and seldom in general. (These are famous last words.) In the past few years, I figure I haven’t gotten sick because I now work at home and rarely come in contact with the outside world, except for the necessary trips to the grocery store or library or post office. Which I have little problem with, except my already poor talents at networking and socializing positively disintegrate. And since conferences and conventions are often places to go in order to network and troll for work, it helps if one can be sociable in order to glad hand for said work. See the problem?

But I’ve got to wonder. Back in the old days, all a shut-in had was the postal service and subscriptions. These days, with the Internet, someone who spends most of her time indoors rarely has to use the postal service and subscriptions for print periodicals aren’t what they used to be (and hence why I now work at home, since I worked for a print periodical). But a FaceTime/Skype session takes the place of a lot of face-to-face interaction. So do we really need to go to conventions anymore?

Wouldn’t get sick as often. Wouldn’t have to spend money, time, and aggravation to get there, spend time and money there, and get home. Wouldn’t be completely and utterly tuckered out and spend the next week or so recovering. But would a face-to-face work better than a FaceTime session or a persuasively written email when you’re trying to find work?

And I’m cheap. And poor. Then there is the problem that if you spend all your time drumming up work, you don’t have time to do the work you already contracted for. I know someone who’s hitting three conferences in the space of two months, and she’s contracted bronchitis and had horrible allergy attacks (grains allergies) pretty persistently. But she’s drumming up interest in her series, and she knows how to network.

It’s a real plus-minus thing. In the meanwhile, though, I finish off these blog posts and take unintended little naps.

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 35 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at emsflynn.com and reached at emsflynn@aol.com. If you’re curious about her books, check out eilisflynn.com. In any case, she can be reached at eilisflynn@aol.com.

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