A-Kon '08: Friday arrival, Idea Generator panel


A full day's rest and no alcohol have set me up nicely to talk about some little ol' con from this weekend in Dallas; with my chocolate all melted, my L wig broken and a couple of fantastic souvenirs, I'll always be able to treasure A-Kon 19, whether I want to or not. I do, though, 'cause the whole time was pure win. Not only did I see some of the best AMVs pound-for-pound (pretend that video is really heavy) in any contest I've ever attended, but there was a bunch of other neat stuff. Oh, and I spent some time in bed with Gia, who bought me dinner afterward. <3 <3 and some more <3

Hit the jump for a little tale of my arrival and a few panels I attended Friday at A-Kon. 

6 a.m. is too early to be on the road, though Redzie later informed us -- as far as he could communicate in his zombiefied state -- that his friend had made them leave at 2 in the morning. Fail! But a full tank of gas, my trusty little car, Mountain Dew and some double cheeseburgers saw me rollin' in, parked in the gentle 90-degree morning heat and collecting my silly little wristband of a press pass by 10-ish. (A-Kon doesn't believe in big-kid badges for press people. Laaaame.) The lady in charge remembered me from last year -- I chose to take that as a good sign and not an indication that my face is scary enough to be memorable.

A quick turn of the dealer's room netted me a white-mage chocobo (EEEEHE'SSOCUTE) and cool knife; a tiny, perhaps 5-year-old Sailor Venus had a Gaara cooing over her at the water table, while Venus' even littler brother was prancing around in Naruto gear. I hope no one got pictures, because I'd like my remaining teeth to stay unmelted. At not-quite-11, as I trekked up to the third floor, I noted the line and how much it looked like Saturdays usually look at this con. It was crowded. The volunteers, though, seemed up to it, passing around a huge "END OF LINE" sign and being as graceful under pressure as you can be when thousands of sweaty teenagers are bellowing, "Roxaaas!!" across the room instead of listening to your requests to stand against the wall. :D I also took heart at my first glimpse of Shinichi Watanabe, Nabeshin himself, stopping to take a picture with a Mario and Luigi. :D :D

My first panel of the day: Ideas Generator! An awesome assemblage of primarily sci-fi and fantasy authors covered every single writing-oriented panel of the con; Melanie Fletcher had had another job come up that morning, and Tom Knowles was running late, so Dragonlance author Doug Niles and my hero, short-story author Lee Martindale, were there to talk with us about where and how one comes up with ideas for stories, what to do with them, what to do when they kinda suck but won't die, etc. Lee is a lady of advanced wisdom, a paraplegic who fences in her chair for a good cause at least once a year in addition to her writing; barely ten minutes into the panel, she sent one gentleman from the room in a huff when he described a three-way writing effort between himself and some friends over the course of five years, and she told him it was masturbation. Don't get the wrong idea: the point of the panel wasn't to crush fledgling authors' dreams and point and laugh; I could almost taste the uncertainty in the room when some questions came up. There was an excellent turnout for what are usually pretty small panels, at least 20 participants, like the girl who was afraid to reuse ideas that didn't work a few years ago because "that's plagiarism." (You can't plagiarize yourself! Who's gonna sue you for that? Your younger self?)

There was a lot of excellent advice, not the least of which was to stop asking authors where they get their ideas; it's probably analogous to asking voice actors, "How do I become a voice actor?" in that it comes up religiously, every con, no matter how many times and ways they answer: hence the panel! In addition to inspiration from books and movies, Doug added that he loves historical "what if?"s -- he once wrote a reimagining of the Battle of Waterloo with an ogre as Napoleon and an elfish Duke of Wellington. Lee said her first sale came from an idea that woke her up at 3 in the morning, for which occasions it's a good idea to keep a notebook beside the bed. As for an idea that seems to run out of steam halfway through, or doesn't fit what you're writing, or you can't really work with, put it away. "Nine writers have 12 opinions," Lee remarked, so you can probably get away with just about anything as long as you think it works. The only writing that'll suck is the kind that you produce with absolutely no feeling: if it doesn't entertain, provoke or otherwise affect you emotionally, it won't do anything for your readers, either.

There are lots of "I have an idea!"ers, and no one pays them anything. Lee clarified that writers are whores, but honest whores, and it's important to know the difference between them and, say, ghostwriters, who aren't. Also, inspiration is great, but the same girl who was afraid of self-plagiarizing wanted to know what happens if you lift someone's words without realizing it--"Bull," said Lee, who assured us it doesn't happen, in the sense that Copy/Paste is an entirely voluntary gesture.

After this very worthy opener, I found refuge under a bank of pay phones - they do still exist - and got in contact with some fellow Jtorians, and the rest is history, in the sense that I found out they're all awesome, and our own Tim Sheehy is a black hole of niceness. Seriously, if he was any more considerate and good-natured, I'd punch him in the nads. I'll be back with more con report after these messages, especially the videos from Anime Hell that made me laugh myself into paralysis!

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Aoi   gamer profile

'Ello, luvs. I be a sometime editor o' Jtor, dependent on my school and work schedule. Thanks for reading! Remember, the first one's free. more + disclosures



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