I’m also working on an “official” “journalisty” (journalisty? Shut up. It’s a word now.) post about GeekGirlCon for Tor.com, but since this is my blog, I’m giving you my personal, squee-ful account of the first ever GeekGirlCon in all its inspiring, wonderful glory.
I took an Amtrak from Los Angeles to Seattle for the con. Actually, I was supposed to take a train from L.A. to Seattle. What happened instead was that that legendary L.A. Traffic™ caused me to miss my train, so I had to take a bus from L.A. to Bakersfield, a train from Bakersfield to Martinez, then I’d be able to catch up to my original train there and take it the rest of the way to Seattle. Whew! The things I do for geekery!
All of that to get to…GEEKGIRLCON!
GeekGirlCon was the most chill, welcoming, and inspiring con I’ve ever been to. It was about more than pop culture. It’s not hyperbolic to say that it was about changing the world. Granted, it was primarily about changing the world by focusing on media – but that’s what we all have to do, right? Find our own little corner of the world that we’re interested in and make it better?
Sure, there were some technical glitches I heard about, and the timing of the panels could’ve been tweaked to give con-goers at the Seattle Center time to go from room to room across the expansive grounds, but on the whole, GeekGirlCon was run extremely well, and in many ways better than other larger cons I’ve been to. The staff was extremely helpful, the design of the show was great, and all of the programming was actually substantive. There wasn’t a “fluff” panel on the entire schedule. Each one either taught you how to do something, or brought together panelists who were truly knowledgeable and articulate about the topic being addressed. Unlike other cons, there were panels I was genuinely upset about not being able to get to. The panels also weren’t just about promoting something. Even those that were clearly about a new release (Scott Westerfeld’s panel promoting his illustrated guide to the world of Leviathan; my, ahem, panel about Whedonistas) were interactive and provided more information and insight than a mere overview of a product.
The Whedonistas signing in the morning on the first day was a lot of fun! But it was also really funny. It’s times like this when I’m made accutely aware of how low I am on the writerly totem pole. I’m sitting next to Jane Espenson and Nancy Holder at the University Book Store table for this signing, and people were handing me their books expecting me to ring them up while asking me how much other books on the table cost. I was like “Um, I’m in this book, actually…kthxbye.” Heh. Such is life. One day, my name will be on the COVER of a book, and then all those people will pay! THEY’LL ALL PAY! You know…for my book. What did you think I meant? I did manage to get some copies of On the Ground Floor into people’s hands - I gave them to everyone who bought a copy of Whedonistas. Getting my work out there, and all that…
Incidentally, the University Bookstore had limited copies of Whedonistas, ordering on the “safe side” because this was the first GeekGirlCon. Whedonistas sold out during our morning signing. ALWAYS order many copies when Jane Espenson is doing a signing, is all I’m sayin’…
At the Whedonistas panel, Jane, Nancy, and Mariah – all of whom are more experienced at everything than I am – gave the audience thoughtful replies to their questions about everything from Whedon’s work to women in the television/publishing/comics industries. Also, we had a giveaway where trivia questions = a signed Husbands crew hat from Jane and a free copy of Whedonistas. Much fun! I was so nervous about the panel all day, it being my first time moderating one, but people kept coming up to me as I was walking around during the rest of the con and were like “The Whedonistas panel was great!” or “Thanks for a great panel! It was awesome!”
It’s sometimes easy, as a relative newbie to this “Putting Your Writing Out There, Publicly” thing, to feel like I don’t matter, or that I’m not getting anywhere. But the fact that I was sitting on a panel with these ridiculously talented women, and afterwards was treated as if I deserved to be there? Well, that made me feel rather good.
I also felt really good, because I felt like I’d actively helped promote Jane’s new webseries, Husbands, which is one that I believe deserves oodles of attention along with The Guild and Awkward Embraces. When I interviewed her about it for Tor, I asked her to be on a panel for Whedonistas at GeekGirlCon, but I mentioned it too, because I thought it would be a great place to reach a target audience for Husbands. She was already scheduled to be in Seattle doing a talk that was done in partnership with GGC, but she was unaware of the con itself. As she told people about Husbands at the signing, and at the panel, there were people who hadn’t heard about it, despite being fans of hers, and I think she was happy that she was reaching people she hadn’t yet reached. I’m proud to have had a hand in that, and will take this moment on my personal blog to pat myself on the back.
I love bringing people/stuff together for Mutually Beneficial Awesome.
And then there were the other folks I got to meet! In addition to meeting the fabulous Mariah Huehner for the first time, I got to meet Bonnie Burton (whom I’d chatted with on Twitter, and who’s friends with just about all of my other L.A. friends) who is lovely; writer Amy Berg (Eureka and The 4400) very, very briefly; and Mary Higgins, at long last! After years of the two of us writing for Pink Raygun and corresponding via the intarwebz, Mary and I were finally in the same place at the same time. She’s got a really fun webseries she’s produced called Mind My Brains, Darling! If you love Britishness…and zombies…check it out!
I met Javier Grillo-Marxuach, whom I knew primarily from Lost, but who’s written a jillion other things (like The Middleman comic and television show, for instance). This was particularly exciting for me, not only because I was (am?) Lost-obsessed, but because having a firmly-established, talented television writer/showrunner (and comics writer!) who also happens to be Puerto Rican for me to look up to is rawther nice. Between him and Jane, I’ve got role models that appeal to both my brown-ness and my ovary-having-ness covered!
I also got to meet the fabulous Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency, who headed up the vlogging panel along with Maile Martinez of Reel Girls. I’d seen her YouTube videos before – especially this one she did on Sam Adama from Caprica, which I disagreed with heartily, but whatevs - but didn’t put two and two together that this was the same woman until about halfway through the panel. She’s incredibly smart; really knowledgeable about feminist history while also being a huge pop culture geek, and she effectively combines the two. She pretty much does through video what I do with my writing. I’m looking forward to getting to know her better – and taking notes and pointers as I do!
And then there were the lovely and wonderful people I met throughout the con! There was the lovely Jedi family whose picture I took (you haven’t emailed me! I have your photo if you want it!), Jenn (of JustJennDesigns fame), Christina (whom I’d met at the Single Geeks L.A. event, but got to talk to more this time around), Ginny (she of the fabulous Ravenclaw cosplay), Vavia (who helped me pass the time between panels), Talina (who helped me figure out how I can edit videos on a PC), Ryan (of the awesome kilt ensemble)… So many lovely people, all of them as friendly as could be.
And Gail Simone totally let me cut in front of her in line at the Registration table, because I was cutting it close for my morning signing.
GeekGirlCon was an amazing, inviting, inspiring, and safe environment for women and geekery. The entire staff did an incredible job at making it all happen. (Shout-out to Jennifer Stuller, the programming director!) I’m really looking forward to it next year, and you should, too!