This weekend I was at ConCarolinas for the first time. For years, I’ve had friends telling me how great the con was and this year I finally got the chance to experience it for myself. ConCarolinas took place in Concord North Carolina this year, an easy 4 hour drive for me. (It’s literally get on 85 and just go forever)
Every convention has its own feeling around it, and I would have to show that love is all around ConCarolinas. The people here care immensely about their passions and about each other. I was welcomed with warm, open arms by everyone there.
The panels were incredible! Friday I got to talk about research, and the tools of the trade for writers. I love apps and writing gadgets so that was such a blast. Friday evening I got to listen to one of the most important panels I’ve ever seen: Mental Health and Writers.
The incredible John Hartness coordinated the panel after the loss of Logan Masterson, a writer we both knew who lost the fight to depression and committed suicide in March. His loss left waves across my convention family and talking openly about the beast of mental illness made me feel less alone, made me realize there is support all around me if only I reach out. I’ll be forever grateful for that discussion and the discussions it led to.
Saturday I was able to talk about one of my passions, tabletop gaming. I had a great time talking about all the failures and successes I’ve had at gaming. It was a blast. Then I talked about Imposter Syndrome, a big, hairy monster that constantly claws up and down my back. Talking about it was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but hopefully it helped the people in the audience understand they’re not alone. That night I spoke on the women and gaming.
My thesis focused on games; I love games, but I’ve avoided talking about them much at conventions because of a lot of fear. A lot of that fear stems from imposter syndrome and a lot from some general nastiness of the internet. The panel was well attended, and we had a great discussion. I learned a lot and the people who came up to me afterwards to thank me made everything worthwhile. Saturday night I got to demo some virtual reality and IT WAS INCREDIBLE! So immersive that I forgot I was in a hotel room.
Sunday I talked writing for anthologies, series, and shared universes. I learned a lot from the panel, even if we did start a little late due to a locked conference room. I left a little early to avoid some nasty storms rolling in. I hated saying goodbye but I left feeling like I’d found another place to call home.
All and all, I can’t wait until next year to visit ConCarolinas again!