I spent this past weekend at the Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston, and I thought I’d write a little about that today. Limestone is a very young convention for readers and writers of ‘genre fiction’ (which is one of those tricky terms I feel like I should write about sometime), in this case SF, fantasy, horror, mystery, and romance. By ‘very young’ I mean this was the second one, and to my somewhat untutored eye they’re doing very well indeed.
It was a really fun two days of excellent programming on writing and ideas I enjoy, as well as a chance to pick up some new reading material (which of course I did) and even engage in the dreaded Networking, at which I am awful but know I must persist at attempting. It’s a little concerning to be utterly useless at a skill (or set of skills) that we are constantly told is essential to our survival in modern society, but fortunately at conventions like Limestone everyone is fairly relaxed and many people are just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them. So I was glad to make some new connections and renew some previously-made ones.
I was also pleased at the opportunity to hone my conventioning (I just invented the heck out of that word) skills. What I mean by this is that when you watch certain people they know exactly how to be a good panelist – to contribute energy to a discussion without taking it over, and to talk about their ideas without talking excessively about themselves – or to be a good moderator, which seems to be mostly getting out of the way but knowing when to provide the occasional deft nudge to a conversation. (Unless you’re Derek Kunsken, in which case you rule with a mighty fist of iron) It’s subtly but significantly different from the world of academic conferences, and I’m still learning how to fill both roles as well as I might. It’s great that events like Limestone are there as proving grounds.
It was also great to see many people who are even younger in their craft as writers than I am getting inspiration and encouragement and advice in a welcoming environment. I hadn’t really thought about it much before Can*Con last year and now Limestone, but it is so wonderful to have events like these to help bring along fresh cohorts of writers. We will all benefit from their stories and I think smaller-scale events like Limestone are excellent places to start getting engaged with the wider literary world. I hope I may have been of some assistance to someone who is starting to find their way with their art.
I should also say that I also just relish the opportunity to participate in energetic, excited discussions about reading and writing with people who are just as into these things as I am. The cliche of writing as a very solitary, sometimes isolating pursuit is true, and it is good (for me, anyway) to get into a situation where I am surrounded by lots of other people who are excited about writing – both their own and other people’s – and to soak up (I guess) some reinforcement about the things that I am passionate about. There is a very battery-recharging effect from spending a day or several days immersed in a situation like this; despite some rather early mornings and a lot of driving I came away from Limestone vibrating with writerly energy. Now I need to take advantage of this…
So overall it was a really enjoyable weekend of superheros, monsters, readers, writers, and discussions of the merits of a Pokemon Go safari, and I’m very grateful to have been able to attend and for the opportunity to participate in the programming. I enjoyed meeting many new people and I thank everyone I spent time with for the energy top-up. Thank you in particular, of course, to Liz Strange and everyone who worked with her to make the Limestone Genre Expo a really superb weekend. I am already looking forward to the next one and looking forward to seeing this convention grow. Next year I think I won’t drive back and forth to Kingston from home like a maniac though.