Winding Down After When Words Collide 2016

I left the Delta South Hotel approximately 24 hours ago, my exit heralding the end of When Words Collide 2016 for me. Overall, it was a great festival. I was really impressed by the panels I attended and I learned a lot –there’s so much knowledge I can’t wait to start implementing in my writing and on my respective blogs.

In reference to my last post about WWC, concerning all the prep work I had envisioned, certain aspects of my attendance were a failure. To be brutally honest, I set myself up for failure from the get-go.

I’m talking about networking here. Deciding that I could do a complete 360˚ personality turn and dive head first into networking with less than 4 weeks to prepare is up there on the list of Dumbest Ideas Ever. Worst though, is the fact that I didn’t actually end up making time to prepare in that small space of time, so I turned myself into a sleep deprived head case for the festival.

I psyched myself out, got barely any sleep in the weeks (and especially the couple of days) leading up to WWC, and couldn’t do anything that I wanted to do. Have you any idea how hard it is to be outgoing, friendly, and cognisant on no sleep? Usually I’m ok with very little sleep, but I was EXHAUSTED when I arrived at the conference on Friday. I was barely functional, and it just got worse from the moment of my arrival on.

I designed new business cards…whoopty doo, when I couldn’t even strike up the energy to place myself in situations where the exchange of said cards would be appropriate.

I went in with the semblance of a game plan…whoopty doo when I went and hovered by Kate’s merchant spot any time I didn’t have a panel.

I went in with the mental mantra that I was going to talk to lots of people…whoopty doo when I was so tired I kept avoiding eye contact because I was petrified of trying to maintain my end of a conversation thread.

Yes, I’m being hard on myself, but I’m so unimpressed right now. At least I can identify where I went wrong.

The weekend was not a total bust. I did manage to meet a couple of new people, and I had lunch with a group on Saturday, and I managed not to make a colossal ass of myself though there were a couple of moments where I really put my foot in my mouth hard. Such is my state of existence though on a regular day.

Sunday was by far my best day of attendance because I had really given up on networking by that point so I was much more relaxed –funny that that’s the day I had more conversations with people. I crack myself up sometimes.

There is a light side to this dark mess I created. I now have business cards I’m not reticent to hand out. I now know that I need to start working on networking right now so that I’m ready come next year (my whole day job point in my last post ignored the fact that at my job people come to me and strike up conversation, not the other way around). I now have a couple of ins I need to figure out how to utilize come next year. And I need to remember to bloody relax.

The front of my new cards.

The front of my new cards.

And the back.

And the back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You win some, you lose some. I’m glad I’ve walked away from this year’s festival with the knowledge of what does not work for me, and a new plan for aspects of my business that will help me with networking next year. It’s all a matter of starting small and letting that snowball build up on itself without me desperately trying to push it up a hill.

If you attended this year how did your plans go and what did you think of WWC? I also have a post on Anxiety Ink with a few more specifics of my own attendance than I mentioned here.

Prepping for When Words Collide 2016

As I’m sure you know, every year I attend the local (to Calgary) readercon When Words Collide. This will be my fourth year attending and I’m hoping to shake up my experience this time around; with August fast approaching I decided discussing my aspirations here will transform into a plan and help me to get my butt in gear.

In 2013 and 2015 I attended the offered pre-festival workshops featuring Patricia Briggs and Faith Hunter. Those were writing-life altering experiences. This year the master classes didn’t call to me, so I’m simply attending the festival, though that itself is rife with more information than any writer brain can process quickly.

All the writerly wisdom gathering aside, my focus this year is networking. I am a terrible networker. Atrocious really. My social anxiety, coupled with my doing-my-darnedest-to-be-punctual-but-rarely-am stress, and my myriad issues with strangers means that when I’m not inside a presentation or with someone I know, my brain is in defensive mode. Defensive mode is not the best head-space for trying to chat people up.

I was largely on my own last year because Kate, who is my WWC compatriot, had multiple presentations to prep for and attend and a merchant table she helped out with, among other things. I was pretty exhausted, but I did damn alright on my own –I even had lunch with someone I met outside the little café I was eyeballing.

I’m betting this year will be largely the same since Kate has her own merchant spot to handle on top of everything else she likes to tackle. I don’t mind the alone time at all, but I want to do more than mentally bolster myself during that time.

So, with a little under four weeks to prepare (as of the day of me writing this post, 10 days from it going live), I am going to do my best to learn how to network in such a setting!

I feel better armoured since I know in advance that I’m going to be largely on my own, and my day job in customer service has made me a pro at small talk, plus never underestimate the bolstering power of a professional persona. E.V. O’Day is much better in such a setting over the long haul than Elisa is any day.

Wish me luck! And I will absolutely be passing along my results and knowledge!

Oh, and I hope to see you at WWC!