Today was my first time at a convention, much less comic con.
As someone who doesn’t deal too well with crowds, I planned to spend the day in panels instead of wandering the booths. Ultimately, I was disappointed by the panels I attended. They were dominated by white men and, though there were a few women on the panels, they were also white women. I will be contacting the con criticizing their choices in whom they invited to panel and request that they decenter their focus on white artists in the next con.
The first panel I attended only because I missed the Avatar of Legend/Korra panel (looking back, I’m relieved, as I suspect it would have only annoyed me).
This was called Outlining vs. Discovery Writing. The panelists were: Kevin J Anderson, Larry Correia, Charles E Gannon, Tracey Hickman, Tyler Jolley (mod), Sarah E Seeley, Jill Williamson.
This was the panel that aggravated me the most, probably, especially Larry who would not shut up. Twenty-five minutes into a fifty minute session none of the women had had a chance to say anything beyond introducing themselves. I think one spoke a total of two times. The moderator noticed this and actually tried to direct a question toward her, but Larry completely steamrolled them. One of the audience members directed a question toward one of the women and again one of the men butted in first with a joke before the woman had a chance to speak.
I was appalled that the panel was so discourteous and that the moderator, who obviously noticed that the men were dominating the conversation (especially Larry!) did next to nothing to stop it.
This panel had not been on my list of panels to attend because conversations about writing usually tend to annoy me, and this was no exception. The con described that the panel would be a discussion between outline writing and discovery writing, but most of the people (including Larry!!!) were outline writers and they had nothing but scorn for discovery writing. They said it was great for beginners, but [real] published writers use outlines because they got deadlines. One of them was like, and if you’re like me who wrote books for Star Wars and X-files, then you need an outline so you know. And like, I don’t really understand the dismissive tone for discovery writing just because they found outline writing more efficient for them.
Larry kept saying he hated getting rid of stuff (which always happens to discovery writers, apparently, since they write themselves up the wrong hill) and that he guessed that discovery writers would have to “hope” they were chopping off the right bits to get their story back on track.
(I honestly don’t think the only person who was remotely positive towards discovery writing was one of the women authors — like, it was just so infantalizing I was furious)
Personally, I tend to outline when I write but for me if it works for you, it works for you. If you get your work submitted on time, then does it matter how you do it as long as it works for you? But instead of encouraging newbie writers to write in a way that encourages themselves to write, these people were basically laughing, flaunting their publishing credits in a I know better than you because I’m published kind of way, and then saying that outlining was more efficient so it was better.
Well, I don’t care about being efficient in my writing! I’ve started more things that I’ve finished. I’ve deleted entire sections of OUTLINED works because it was best for the story.
And to be honest, I didn’t get the attitude that deleting large sections of what Didn’t Work (obviously brought about by those poor naieve discovery writers!) was a waste of a time or a waste of energy or a waste of resources because what Didn’t Work has ALWAYS brought me to what did work, and sometimes, I use what didn’t work in something else but even if I don’t NOTHING that I write, NOTHING that gets backspaced, NOTHING that never sees the light of day wasn’t worthless or useless or a waste of time
and I couldn’t believe I was hearing this from veteran writers.
The second panel I attended was equally disappointing. This was the Creating Horror: How to Scare the Crap out of People. I wasn’t familiar with any of the Panelists (Jason A Anderson, Michaelbrent Collings, Steve Diamond, Craig Nybo [mod], Lehua Parker, and Nathan Schumate) but I’m really bad at writing horror and I wanted to go and pick up some tips.
They started taking pot shots at Twilight before the panel had officially started. The pot shots were sprinkled throughout the panel and I thought it was extremely juvenile.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not Twilight’s greatest fan, but when the only thing you have to say about is romantic vampires that glitter then literally shut the hell up. Criticize Meyer for her romanticization of abuse, criticize her for her racist depiction of the Quileute Tribe, criticize her for how Bella, a white woman, stole and appropriated the narrative of the Quileute’s story about one of their own–but if the only thing you have to say about Twilight is mocking vampires that glitter and how it’s about vampires in lurve then literally shut the fuck up.
The irony of it was that one of the guys who took the shot was like and one of my favorite horror books is the classic Dracula by Bram Stoker.
As if Dracula wasn’t invested in romance and/or stalking women that caught his gaze and turning them into vampire (sound a little bit like Edward, maybe!).
The panel got worse when people kept listing Steven King as the author of the novel that scared them the most. It got worse when one of them was like — build a horror tree of what scares you (—which, was the only good idea I saw) but then proceeded to list horrifically ableist ideas that he actually wrote a book from apparently:
What’s scary? Prisons. What’s scarier than prisons? Crazy people in prisons.
Like — was this author not aware of how the prison industrial complex functions in our society? Was he not aware that he was being INCREDIBLY ableist — especially since people who are mentally ill are frequently incarcerated and not allowed the care they need?
But mostly I didn’t learn anything new from that panel. Show, don’t tell. The usual. Only with extra doses of bullshit that should not have happened. What were the moderators thinking? What were the people thinking who hired these people?
The last one I went to was Fairy Tales from the Dark Side. Panelists were: Daniel Bishop, The Storyteller; Katie Burton; M Todd Gallowglas; Lauren Skidmore; Benjamin Tilton; Michelle Witte (mod)
This one, I thought, would be good. This has to be it.
Daniel the Storyteller was incredibly annoying. He kept telling us very loudly to tell stories to carry on the oral tradition and it’s like–I get that it’s important to you.
But the stories are not gonna die. Ways of storytelling evolves too, and that doesn’t inhibit their growth.
But almost the first words out of his mouth after they went over how fairy tales used to be an oral tradition was lamenting the fact that once printed, that version of the story won’t grow anymore.
And I was like–what. What. How can you even say that.
Thankfully, one of the other panelists was like, Well, there are so many retellings these days. Like in Young Adult there are so many different retellings of Cinderella —
and I was like hahaha that’s the politest way to say you’re wrong I’ve ever seen.
But at the same time, I was just cringing from the literary elitism like sorry anything less than the oral tradition isn’t somehow as good enough for you (and then he completely backtracked when he brought up how the Native American tribes tend to NOT share their oral traditions with us because of how we’ve taken everything else from then and how he it presented a moral conundrum for him because if they don’t get the stories printed then they’re gonna be gone and i was like you fucking hypocrite so publishing is good enough to steal more from the indigenous people of america??? you asshole).
I don’t know why I was expecting anything different from a panel called Fairy Tales from the Dark Side, but by the time the panel ended I was so tired of this idea of more terrible things happening, more misery, equals good.
One person was like, I hate that we’re getting more movies from the perspective of the villain. It’s making fairy tales nicer and it sanitizes the villains.
And it’s literally like FUCK YOU consider who we’ve made into villains. Is it any wonder that villains tend to be mothers (then distanced to step mothers) is it any reason that villains are people we want to see violence enacted against as ways to support and perpetuate violent systems of power?
Are you even thinking about WHY these people were villains? Are you even thinking about HOW these depictions encourage and condone enacting violence against communities of people? It’s not an accident that many villains in fairy tale stories are based on harmful racist and violent stereotypes!
So they were basically like whatever on that and I was just — are you fucking kidding me?
One of the audience members asked what they wanted out of modern fairy tale stories, and the Storyteller guy was like
I want fairy tales where the fairies steal human babies because their skin makes the softest leather around.
My jaw dropped. I had no words. I still have no words other than why and when will this idea that the more misery means the most adult and the most mature fucking end already
Safe to say, I will probably not be going out of my way to read any books any of these people have written. I don’t agree with their writing philosophy at all and their books probably aren’t for me.