Physical Prepping for Conventions

Picture of an elaborately painted toe nail.

Not my usual style, but I like it nonetheless.

I’m off to ArmadilloCon tomorrow, and looking forward to it. Questions about going to conventions often come up in the F&SF class, so I thought I’d answer the main one and then talk about what I do to prep for one.

Here’s the question that keeps coming up: Is going to conventions vital for F&SF writers?

And the answer is no, of course not. Don’t go to conventions unless you are genuinely deriving pleasure of some sort from them. If you’re going to go and just sit in a corner and be miserable, then don’t waste your money.

I do like cons. I’d probably go to at least a few even if I wasn’t just writing. I find them a great place to see old friends and make new ones, hear interesting discussions, and even do a little networking. To make the most of them, I may set up meetings with folks I want to see in order to make sure there’s time for it. If I’m on panels, I make sure I’m ready to talk about whatever the topic is. If I’m reading, I rehearse the piece well beforehand and make sure I know how long it takes to read.

But part of my prep is also making sure I look professional as well. The only time I’ll go off to get my nails done is before a con (or some other work outing) and I always make sure my hair is recently cut, that I’ve got clean and reasonably matching outfits, suitable footwear, and all the rest. But that’s as much for internal as external factors – I know if I’m feeling well-assembled, I’ll be more confident overall.

I’d be curious to hear what other folks do to prepare for conventions, or if you’ve got tips for hotel existence. I’ve learned to make sure I’ve got a change of clothes in my carry-on if I check a bag, that ballet flats make great light-weight footwear for cons, and to make sure I’ve got all my charging cords. How about you?

Enjoy this career advice for writers and want more content like it? Check out the classes Cat gives via the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, which offers both on-demand and live online writing classes for fantasy and science fiction writers from Cat and other authors, including Ann Leckie, Seanan McGuire, Fran Wilde and other talents! All classes include three free slots.

Prefer to opt for weekly interaction, advice, opportunities to ask questions, and access to the Chez Rambo Discord community and critique group? Check out Cat’s Patreon. Or sample her writing here.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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