Wednesday, October 14, 2015

NerdCon: Stories Recap

So this weekend I had the opportunity to go to NerdCon: Stories. It was a convention held in Minneapolis, about any kind of storytelling. Of course this meant that there were a lot of authors there, but there were also other people who tell stories, such as podcast writers, actors, and screenwriters. It was put on by none other than Hank Green, one half of the Vlogbrothers and the guy who also puts on VidCon, if you've heard of either of those. I went with a friend from high school. We drove down Thursday early morning, and then came back Sunday. The con itself was Friday and Saturday. 

My friend and I got to Minneapolis around 4pm on Thursday. After resting at our hotel for a bit, we went to what else but a bookstore and bought some used but very new looking books for cheap. 

Day 1

On Friday, we went early to the convention centre to register and just ended up waiting around for awhile for the main stage doors to open. At 8:30 the doors finally opened and we all crowded into the main auditorium, to hear the opening speech from Hank Green who basically said he doesn't quite know what this is either, but thanked us all for being there. 

After the morning main stage entertainment, my friend and I went to our first panel called Telling the Truth, moderated by Hank Green with panelists Paola Bacigalupi, Leslie Datsis, Jacqueline Woodson, Ana Adlerstein, and Nalo Hopkinson. They talked about telling the truth, both in nonfiction and fiction, and what that means. Both Jacqueline Woodson and Nalo Hopkinson were very eloquent speakers and said lots of important things, unfortunately I did not take any notes and forgot all the cool things they said shortly after. There was one part where they were talking about the important of telling diverse stories, and someone asked whether they feel a certain responsibility to represent all these different perspectives. Jacqueline Woodson replied with "it's not a responsibility, it's my world." I definitely need to pick up one of her books. 

After that panel, we went to the Nerdfighter Q and A with Maureen Johnson and Hank and John Green. It was basically just lots of ridiculousness and laughter. 

The other panel we went to that day was The Benefits of Diverse Stories, with Liz Hara, Desiree Burch, Jacqueline Woodson, Dylan Marron, and Jacqueline Carey. I did take notes for that one, but it would take too long to recap all the great things that were said. I would suggest following all the work of the panelists, and of course, following We Need Diverse Books. If you're not part of the discussion of the importance of diversity in stories, you need to be. 

Then we went to the closing main stage, got supper and then went to the Storytelling Circle at 6pm, hosted by Leslie Datsis. That was fun. There was a big group of attendees gathered in kind of a circle, and people would raise their hand for the opportunity to share their 5-minute story, on the theme of "Firsts". I thought it had the potential to be really annoying, but I guess the people who would want to share their stories out loud in front of people tend to be better at that than say, me. It was actually fun hearing all these different stories from people you'd never meet in your own life, and there were some pretty interesting stories too.

Day 2

This morning we got coffee early and then headed to the small vendor room so we could walk around when it wasn't too busy. Then we waited around for the start of Stephanie Perkins signing. We weren't allowed to line up until an hour before, and then we were ushered in to the room to sit in chairs, so it wasn't bad at all waiting. While we were waiting to meet her, my friend and I met a girl from Chicago and ended up talking to her for an hour. Then we met Stephanie Perkins! She is just as adorable and lovely as her books. It is a funny thing, because you meet this person and chat for a bit, and then they're never going to remember you. But I think it's fun to see the person behind the book. 

I think that was a cool thing about the panels, is I got to see some of my favourite authors, like Stephanie Perkins and Maggie Stiefvater, talk about things out loud, in person. You just get to see more of what people are like when you see them in real life, even if you don't interact with them directly. It's fun to realize that these authors are exactly like what you'd expect from reading their books. 

After the signing, we went to a panel with Stephanie Perkins, Pat Rothfuss and Maureen Johnson on writing sex, and then the next panel was about writing (or trying not to) write stereotypes with Liz Hara, Jeffrey Cranor, M.T. Anderson, Tea Obreht and Maggie Stiefvater. That was also a really great discussion. Listening to all these people talk made me want to devour all their books or podcasts or whatever they produce. Mary Robinette Kowal, the moderator for the stereotypes panel, seemed so intelligent and fun and I've never even heard of her books. 

We stayed for the last main stage, which was just insanity, and then left the con to meet up with a friend of mine who lives in Minneapolis. 

All in all, my first convention experience was pretty great. It was nice that it was the first year and relatively small, since that's more within my comfort zone. Also that meant that there were only four things to choose from at any given moment, rather than like, thirty. It's cool to see and participate in these things in person that I usually only experience online. 

So I actually think that NerdCon is pretty cool. :)  

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