|Couldn't find the 2015 version. Deal with it.|
All that to say, I attended COSine. To attend a Con means you're not a guest, you have to pay to get in, you don't get anything fancy to attach to your laniard, and you don't get to sit on the panels. You do however get the opportunity to learn a shit load, self-reflect while listening to other people pontificate, and ask questions to people more professional than you ... all the while semi-hiding that you've written multiple books and probably could do all those things if you weren't being lazy... But hey I digress.
First thing I noticed was that the event was at a different hotel than usual, and as it happened the place was a bit fancier. The Hotel Elegante, which boasts very nice rooms and a lovely 10 Commandments mural just outside the front door (hey, it is Colorado Springs after all), was damn fine and I hope they have it there next year. On the other hand, I was not quite happy with the food at the hotel restaurants (I'm kind of a food snob now, that's a different story) but just up the road is Flatirons Bar & Grill which, despite the country music droning into my ears during lunch, quite impressed me.
Second thing I noticed was that the Guest of Honor (GoH) was Nathan Lowell, whose name sounded familiar but not in an I-love-that-guy's-books sort of way. In fact, it took until halfway through the Con for me to actually remember where I knew his name from. The main reason I'm not uber-familiar with him is because Lowell writes mostly Sci-fi (Quarter Share is apparently where it all began), but a lot of his philosophy on writing is inline with my own. He runs a blog and various other social channels and does incredibly well for himself, despite not being in RMFW or SFWA (there was some discussion regarding these things during his Author Interview). Check him out.
No, the reason I knew who he was is because he's huuuge on Podiobooks.com (which, if you'll recall, I published The Ninth Avatar there for a bit, before Trapdoor Books acquired it to publish and I had to take the audio version down). You'd think that would be enough to jog my memory, but when the brain works the brain works. I knew Nathan Lowell because he did the podiobooks readings for Michael Sullivan's The Crown Conspiracy and subsequent novels, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Audio books just aren't my thing, but I can handle them in short bursts.
Anyway, to get back on track here, Lowell quoted an often-used set of rules for writing (& publishing) that are attributed to Heinlein (who is talked about so much at COSine he needs to have some sort of welcoming bust on the registration table). These are explained very well here, but to put it very simply:
- Finish it
- Don't rewrite except on Editorial order (aka you're being paid or will be paid)
- Market it
- Market it until it's sold
- Start something else
Sitting there absorbing a currently well-known author regurgitating a ridiculously-famous author's ELI5-simple writing rules, I had one of those "what the fuck am I doing?" moments that less crass authors refer to as epiphanies.
COSine came at a really good time for me, and approaching the end of last year I wasn't even 100% sure I was going to attend. I'm very glad I did, because it fed into what was already going on in my mind, which is me telling myself to get off my mind's ass and do some work. With everything that's been going on the last 5 or so years, unemployment that led into a very stressful job, raising a puppy, struggling with who I am these days, I found I'd really let writing fall by the wayside. In fact, it was one of the first things to go when the times got tough in my life, and that makes me incredibly sad in retrospect.
Sad not because of all the time I've missed out on that I could have been writing instead of playing Final Fantasy XIV or watching Burn Notice through for the 10th time, but sad because I treated writing as optional. That implies a lot, not the least of which is a lack of professionalism, and I can even throw in a reference to how disenchanted I felt at the time. Writing should never be the first thing to go. All that was in the process of changing; I'd finished up Scions, put a cover together, and released it out into the world. I was pondering what to do next (besides avoid marketing like the plague) when I decided I'd go to COSine for a weekend away among other SF/F fans and authors.
Sitting in on Nathan Lowell's Author Interview was the swiftest and greatest kick in the ass I've gotten in a long time. Now, of course that was weeks ago and I'm just blogging about it now, but that doesn't mean I've been idle in the meantime. I ditched my old writing journal, which was full of notes on all three books I've published so far, as well as critique group notes from my old Writer's Group (which I've actually been avoiding all this time ... damnit) and on my way back from Colorado Springs I picked up a new writing journal. In it I've written some writing & marketing goals, quite a few notes, and general thoughts.
Change doesn't come overnight, but thanks to COSine 2015 it's no longer as glacial as it once was. Cheers to what hopefully becomes a great year, and see you at COSine 2016 (where we can all fawn over Jim Butcher and get our Dresden Files novels signed!!!).
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