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.
Can you believe that it’s already February? We’re well into the new year and you know what that means: programming submissions for GeekGirlCon 2019 are officially open!
The GeekGirlCon staff is ramping up again as we plot this year’s convention. The creative team is in the thick of brainstorming the 2019 theme (which we’re excited to share with you later this spring) and now our programming team is eager to see your ideas for new panels, events, and workshops.
Panel Submissions Panels are the heart and soul of GeekGirlCon. We’re all about sharing a diverse range of unique voices and stories—and we want to hear yours. This year, we’re particularly interested in engaging content inspired by our community. What are you passionate about? What do you want to share?
Panelist and/or Moderator Application Interested in being on a panel but don’t necessarily have a group? You can apply to be either a solo panelist or a moderator! We’ll try our best to match you to any panel in need of an additional participant.
Performance & Event Submissions Panels aren’t the only events at GeekGirlCon. Historically, we’ve hosted our annual Fashion Show and Cosplay Contest, but each year we aim to expand on our content. From variety shows to networking events, if you and your company have an idea for a performance or event, we’d love to hear from you!
Workshop Submissions GeekGirlCon also hosts a variety of workshops and other interactive programming. If you’re interested in giving a more hands-on presentation or class, we welcome you to apply. Prior workshops have included the Use Your Voice, Rey: Political Advocacy 101, Allyship in Fandom, and the Black Girls Code Workshop.
Tabletop Game Host Applications Are you working on a game, whether independently or with a larger studio? We’d love for you to demo it on the gaming floor! Tabletop games, indie developers, and larger game studios have joined us at GeekGirlCon in the past, and we’d love to see you this fall.
A couple tips and pointers to consider when submitting your proposal:
Make sure your submission is on-mission. We’re looking for engaging content that correlates with our mission statement, which is to celebrate and honor the legacies of under-represented groups in science, technology, comics, arts, literature, game play, and game design. We do this by connecting geeks worldwide and creating an intersectional community that fosters the continued growth of women in geek culture. GeekGirlCon provides a safe space to spark conversations around social justice while encouraging unabashed geekiness.
Think about what’s going on right now. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and we are very interested in topics that are relevant to recent events or discuss important issues in interesting or new ways.
We want to hear your unique perspective. We want to hear from everyone. Regardless of how you identify, the color of your skin, your gender, or your sexual orientation—we’re all geeks here, and that’s what matters. Tell us your individual story. What are you excited about? What is your niche?
If you have any questions about submitting your programming idea, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the next GeekGirlCon is almost a full year away (November 16 and 17, 2019!), we’re already getting the ball rolling, and we’d love your help! We’ve compiled an Amazon Wish List of items that will help us make the con a success. If you’d like to support our mission, please take a look and consider donating an item or two to the cause.
Source: Giphy. Description: An overhead shot of many people putting their hands into a pile as a celebration of teamwork. The last “hand” is a dog paw.
Each item on the wish list is labeled with the area of the con it will help support, so you can contribute directly to the experiences that have had an impact on you.
Love our panels and featured contributors? Consider donating a Southwest Airlines gift card to help us bring in more panelists from more places around the country.
Appreciate our accessibility efforts? You may want to donate a pack of writing pads to support that mission.
Consider our cosplay contests the highlight of GeekGirlCon? Our wish list is full items we’d love to offer as fabulous prizes for contest winners. (Pro tip: if you’re looking for holiday gift ideas for the geeks in your life, I’d highly recommend scrolling through our list.)
Source: Giphy. Description: a trio of people dressed as Santa’s elves wrapping a present.
Whatever you love about GeekGirlCon, our Amazon Wish List is a great, inexpensive way to have a tangible impact on next year’s con. We appreciate your support and can’t wait to show you what we have in store for the upcoming year!