Prepare yourselves, dear readers, for today I will be telling you about an experience that changed my life.
No, not a death-defying feat, a thrilling adventure, or an inspiring turn of events.
Specifically, “You Can’t Suck at Everything,” a writing workshop that I was lucky enough to attend last October at GeekGirlCon ‘18.
As someone who has abandoned so many half-finished novels I could set up a small graveyard in my backyard, I couldn’t get to this workshop quickly enough. Not only did it promise to help provide the basics of a 3-act story structure, delve into character creation and worldbuilding, and explore how our perceived “flaws” are actually key to finding and articulating our own unique perspective as writers, but it was also run by the one and only Margaret Stohl.
If you are one of the ten billion people (a rough estimate) who devoured the Beautiful Creatures series (co-authored with Kami Garcia), you might be familiar with the powerhouse talent that is Margaret Stohl. As if being an internationally bestselling author isn’t enough, Stohl has also written multiple comics, including the Mighty Captain Marvel series, and has a long career as a writer and narrative director for video games.
Almost immediately, Stohl cultivated a sense of community in the workshop, uniting us all as writers, artists, and creators of all kinds. It can be so easy to feel isolated as a writer or creator. If you’re like most of us, you’re probably plagued by constant doubts, spend an unhealthy amount of time with fictional characters, spin off into daydreams when you should be doing things like “concentrating” or “working at your day job,” and guard your work like a fearsome dragon mother.
This workshop felt like the perfect antidote to the self-imposed isolation of doubt, fear, and embarrassment. When everyone’s in the same boat, what is there to be self-conscious about?
There were so many points, tips, and ideas that I walked away from the workshop with, but, in the interest of not making you read a full thesis, here are some of the highlights:
Everyone has a story, and everyone wants to tell a story. As Stohl said, “I’m interested in yours and you should be more interested in yours than anyone.”
Don’t put off what you want because you’re worried about failing. You will fail! Spoiler alert: that’s okay.
It’s hard to take yourself seriously as a writer and creator, even–and especially–if it’s the thing you want most in the world. Do it anyway. Affirm yourself as a writer and creator.
“If you want something, you take it. There is exactly nothing standing between you and that thing.”
“You cannot write a protagonist without being a protagonist in your own life.”
Understand who you are writing for, and write for them, not for the whole world.
A novel is, at its core, just 30 words. Write a list of 30 words that map the arc of your story, and make those your chapters. Go from there.
You are probably a specialist in fear. Write about that, use that. There is nothing you know more about than what you fear.
Start developing and curating your “brain office.” Collect and organize your material, even in your own mind.
Keep everything. Old lists, descriptions, terrible poems, scraps of dialogue. Keep it all.
Find a critique partner for accountability and support.
“Do not confuse sucking at one thing with sucking at everything.”
There you have it, some solid gold advice for when you’re feeling stuck, uninspired, or insecure. If I came away with one conviction from the workshop, it’s that I’m a writer. I’m a creator.
Veronica Hernandez, Senior Roto/Paint Artist at LAIKA and the host of the Enter LAIKA: Behind the Scenes panel, kicked off her introduction to LAIKA with the clip above. “We’re all super geeks,” she explained when it ended. “At LAIKA, being weird is a superpower. We get to come together and make these amazing films.”
Well, friends, GeekGirlCon’18 has officially drawn to a close. On behalf of the GGC staff, I want to say thank you so, so much to all of you who joined us this past weekend. Thank you to everyone who attended, volunteered, sponsored, supported, and otherwise contributed to making 2018 our best year yet. Thank you for believing in our mission, for finding value in the celebration of geeky girls and women, and for being passionate about the things you love and sharing that passion with us.
GeekGirlCon’18 is just over a week away, which means it’s right before Halloween!
Source: Giphy. Description: A dog in a ghost costume holding a glowing jack-o’-lantern on a cord while surrounded by more jack-o’-lanterns.
Scared you’ll have to choose between enjoying the con and getting your ghoul on? Don’t worry, we have plenty of unboolievably fun workshops, games, panels, and more lined up to help you celebrate in style. Plus, get ready to trick-or-treat all con long! Look for “Trick-or-Treat Here” signs scattered throughout the con. Got food sensitivities or allergies? We’ll have teal pumpkins to mark locations with candy alternatives.
Source: Giphy. Description: a corgi barking at and jumping around a small pumpkin.
Dying for a sneak peek of our fangtastically spooky programming? Here are some highlights:
GeekGirlCon owes its lifeblood to a nearly unquantifiable host of individuals and groups who dedicate themselves to bringing us all together once a year. From our year-round staff to our con-weekend Agents to our Featured Contributors to our attendees, the light and love coming from our support network is seemingly infinite.
That all being said, we also couldn’t do the thing—the hosting our big, lively family all together in one physical space for a weekend thing—without the help of our annual sponsors. Our sponsors put their faith in us, and we couldn’t be more grateful. So, without too much more fanfare, I’d like to take moment to thank some of the folks who’ve come through for us this year. After all, we’re all in this together.
Image description: A series of board games stacked on a table. Image source: GeekGirlCon Flickr
Over the weekend of GeekGirlCon, there are of course a whole slew of activities for you to enjoy. From the various geek-themed panels, to the family-friendly DIY Science Zone, from Artist Alley to the bustle of the Exhibitor Hall, there’s always something to see and do.
Image description: an attendee with a Pikachu hat plays King of Tokyo at GeekGirlCon. Image source: GeekGirlCon Flickr
Speaking of seeing and doing, the gaming spaces at GeekGirlCon let you do just that. Whether it’s getting yourself immersed in a board game or creating your own at our Game Design Challenge, our gaming floor is going to be packed with games that you can borrow and play. As a bonus, we’ll be bringing back our Let’s Play stage for a second year, and with that comes a whole series of new and fun games to watch and talk about.
One of the things that GeekGirlCon is known for is our introduction to role playing games, and this year is no different. Our game master laureate Andy Munich returns lead some RPG sessions for new and old dungeoneers alike, and join the D20 Dames on Saturday night on our Let’s Play stage as they behead (or befriend) monsters and punch creeps in order to collect loot!
Image description: Two children and an adult sit at a table to playtest a game. Image source: GeekGirlCon Flickr
If card games are more your speed, you’re also in luck! Dungeon Mayhem is an action-packed, easy-to-learn, family-friendly, and (importantly) not-yet-released new D&D card game, and it’s available to try at GeekGirlCon! Check it out before it hits the shelves in your friendly neighborhood game stores! You can also meet the designers who will be be demoing the game over the weekend.
Image description: a family plays a video game together. Image source: GeekGirlCon Flickr
On the video game front, In particular, we’re especially proud to be presenting some of our very own GeekGirlCon staffers and their friends as they play Overwatch and talk about their regular gaming sessions! We’ll also have accessibliity advocate Cherry Rae on stage during our Witching Hour event to play the spooky game Oxenfree!
Of course, there are many, many other things happening on the gaming floor and around the Let’s Play stage for you to discover! For more information, check out our gaming basics guide. See you at the con!
GeekGirlCon Costume Contest at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA, on Saturday, September 30, 2017.
This year I started dabbling in cosplay, and very quickly came to learn that making a costume is not only an expression of love for a fandom, but it’s also a great opportunity to show off your creative side and your design skills! A LOT of hard work goes into creating outfits, weapons, gear, and props, and it’s only right that if you’ve put in the time for that, that you be recognized for it.
That’s why we’re bringing back the Costume Contest to GeekGirlCon this year! Register in one of the two age categories: adults (13+, holding an adult GeekGirlCon pass), and kids (12 and under, with child passes). Adults can also register as a group of no more than five, if you have a squad effort happening.
Show us what you’ve sewn, hot glued, welded, knitted, or otherwise put together to celebrate your favorite geeky characters.
Image description: a cosplayer holds a R2-D2 parasol while in a ballet-themed R2-D2 costume. Photo by Danny Ngan.
After you register for the category that best suits you, you’ll also be given the option to meet our amazing panel of judges backstage. They’ll be to ask questions about your costume and look up close at it. (This is optional and you can chose not to participate in pre-event judging.) Then, all you need to do is show up on the day for the contest and strut your stuff.
Plus, there are fabulous prizes to be won for your efforts!
A participant in the kids’ costume celebration is asked about their Child of Light cosplay. Photo by Danny Ngan.
Registration is NOW OPEN and will close when all of the spots are filled, or at the time of the convention, whichever comes first. Spots are limited, so make sure you get in quick to snag yours.
One of the many aspects of GeekGirlCon that sets it apart from other conventions is its commitment to welcoming geeks of all ages. We don’t just tolerate our kid attendees, we design the weekend with their interests in mind. Whether that means keeping our 18+ programming scheduled in the evenings or setting up a kids-only cosplay contest, we’re serious about keeping our evolution reactive to the needs of even the littlest con-goers.
In terms of kids programming, the now-classic GeekGirlCon event we’re proudest of is our DIY Science Zone. This year will mark the Zone’s eighth iteration, with each con bringing bigger and better additions. Part of the reason we’re able to keeping growing and changing when it comes to this special-ist of events is because we’ve got a community that shares our values and knows that accessible science education needs funding.
Source: Giphy. Description: Kermit the frog waving his entire body around in excitement.
The con will be packed full of incredible panels, workshops, science DIYs, games, meet-ups, and other geeky goodness you won’t want to miss. If you, like me, are a bit of a procrastinator, don’t panic—there’s still time to get your passes. Currently, the pass prices are:
Kids (Aged 0 to 5): Free! Kids (Aged 6 to 12): $10 One Day Pass: $30 Weekend Pass: $45
So, round up your family, friends, acquaintances, and/or that polite regular on your bus route and get ready to get your geek on at the con!