Geek Girl Con 2013: Sunday (Part 2)

Okay then, onto part 2.  This day was mostly panels for me.  There may also be one more post where I mention some of the lovely people I met that didn’t make it into the various days’ writeups.  (Mostly because I met them between events/panels and so they don’t fit in so neatly with the chronological breakdown.)

I arrived to the convention at roughly the same time as before (about 9 AM), mostly due to the bus schedule, and made a beeline for the first panel I attended at 10 AM.

10:00 AM — Panel: Writing for Role-Playing Games, run by Amber Scott.  This panel was easily my favorite of the convention.  Amber really knows her stuff, and was very open with sharing all sorts of little details about the RPG writing process.  (Example that I found extremely useful: The average 8.5×11″ RPG page, once fancy borders are added and with an average amount of art and usual formatting, holds about 750 words/page.  I’d been trying to find a statistic like that forever!)  She was also super-encouraging and told a lot of funny stories as she walked us how she got her start in the industry, some basic things to always remember when submitting work, and how to let editors and such know you’re available for work without being annoying.  Oh, and she gave mad props to all the editors out there and tried to dispel the myth that they’re all mean people, which was nice to hear!  (Especially since editors are totally awesome but it can be hard to tell that right away from the receiving end of a rejection letter, so sometimes people need to be reminded.)  The main points I came away with was to take all the opportunities you can (try not to talk yourself out of them), always be polite and kind, and just keep working at it.

12:00 PM — Panel: Life as a Lone Wolf: Tips for a Successful Freelance Career.  Bonnie Burton, Hilary Heskett Shapiro, Holly Conrad, Jessica Merizan, and Miellyn Fitzwater Barrows were all on this panel.  It was one of the most hilarious panels I attended (Bonnie went and had a puppet take her place on the panel within the first five minutes), but it had some good advice as well.  One interesting thing was that a lot of these individuals had started at various staff jobs (or acquired them early on) and then went freelance, which let them leverage those connections as their first client as a freelancer, helping them build their portfolio and solidify their contacts.  Hilary also mentioned (and was very much agreed with) that “Freelancing is doing anything they’ll let you do,” which was a nice call towards not being afraid of doing something new.  Taking projects that you were initially scared of was also endorsed, because those often give you the opportunity to try out new skills and grow your abilities in the way that doing the same work over and over again never will.  Also, as far as your taxes: get an accountant, they are wonderful and usually pay for themselves with the deductions they can find.  All-in-all a good panel, with a lot of emphasis on building and maintaining your reputation, taking a practical approach to transitioning into freelancing, and always improving.

1:00 PM — Panel: How to (or Should You?) Start a Geek Business.  This panel was moderated by Sephanie Zimmerman, and the experts in attendance were Bronwyn Detlofsen and Cecil Longino.  This mostly focused on starting businesses like retail establishments, restaurants, etc that cater toward a geek crowd.  (Bronwyn runs the Wayward Coffeehouse in Seattle, and Cecil runs the Salle Saint-George fencing school.)  Main takeaways: it’s going to take you a couple years to become profitable, you’ll be working extremely long hours to improve your business, a lot of businesses fail, and it’s all going to take way more time and money than you initially estimate.  Good lessons!  The bit about getting an accountant and how they pay for themselves most of the time was also repeated.

2:00-ish — At some point in here I hustled across the street and got two fruit and nut bars and an apple for lunch.   Let me tell you, after running around for the last day and a half and eating out so much, that convenience store apple was one of the more amazing apples I ever had.

3:00 — It’s Not Too Dangerous to Go Alone: Finding the Bravery to do it Yourself.  Another big panel, with Hilary Heskett Shapiro, Kara Helgren, Kenna Conklin, Marian Call, and Miellyn Fitzwater Barrows all up in front.  This panel covered a lot of conquering the fear of getting your stuff out there (protip: just get it out there, you’ll learn from critique if nothing else), finding peers (talk to everyone, including people at con panels talking about what you’re interested), and some of the more day to day things like organization and discipline.  Accountants came up again, as well as the advice to do your research into things like taxes and licensing before you start a project (especially a licensed project, with the additional advice that for that you should check with an attorney, too), because making a mistake on a licensed project or your taxes is way too expensive, and there’s no mercy if you did something wrong without knowing it.  Also, only do things for free if you want to do them and you’re not taking a job away from someone else/hurting anyone (aka if no one does it for free would they hire someone? if so, don’t do it).  Oh, and hey, if you’re getting rejected, that means you’re doing the work and getting it out there, and that’s a way better sign than not getting rejection at all because you’re not making things/doing the work.

4:00 PM — Panel: QUEER GEEK!: Women in Gaymer Communities.  Up front for this panel were: Benjamin Williams (who was also moderating, it seemed), Ashley Cook, Crystal Frasier, Kelsey Wesley, and Cherisse Watson.  This was a really interesting discussion about why women often don’t feel welcome in queer spaces, and why those spaces tend to trend towards being populated primarily by men.  GaymerX was discussed as an example.  Trans women also came up (given that sometimes they don’t feel welcome in your average women-oriented space), and one of the panelists gave a very good example where she advertised her ladies night as being for anyone “who identified as a woman” or something similar, which let marginalized trans women know they were more than welcome to attend.  The discussion did drift quite a few times, but the big takeaway seemed to be that we can’t trust queer spaces to be implicitly welcoming to everyone, and that it may need to be made more explicit that yes, these spaces are truly for everyone, men, women, gay, bi, lesbian, queer, trans, asexual, (if I missed your preferred identity word/phrase, please insert it here and accept my sincerest apologies), and allies, too.  The panel was a little tense at times, but the panelists managed to keep the discussion and answers to audience questions moving along and productive, which was totally awesome.  (Also, man, coming up with universally agreed upon definitions is hard, as some of the conversation during this panel demonstrated.)

After that last panel, I popped into the closing ceremonies at 5:30 PM.  Well, I actually ended up sitting on the end of the Ladies of the 80s sing along, which was amazing.  And then the closing ceremonies happened.  They were short and sweet, with a short speech from the higher-up organizers, a thanking of all the volunteers, and the Doubleclicks performing “Noting to Prove” to close out the night.

After that, I headed home exhausted.  It was a truly fantastic con, especially if you had lots of panels to go to, and everyone I met seemed pretty awesome.  And it was a very welcoming space to everyone, which is a nice change from how some other cons can feel.  I fully recommend going to Geek Girl Con if you ever get a chance, and I’ll definitely be back next year!

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