This upcoming weekend marks my last convention appearance for the year (Delta H Con – August 28th through 30th) and I find myself in a mixed frame of mind as I hurtle toward the weekend. With my health still a constant struggle, these cons wipe me out. But there’s a reason for that — I can’t help myself. Each and every time I have an opportunity to meet fellow aficionados of all things geek, I find myself all-in, wanting to learn as much as possible about each and every new person I meet at these celebrations.
Case in point, I recently attended Creation Con’s ‘Official Stargate Convention’ in Chicago along with four of the franchise’s lead authors (and that includes Sally Malcolm who wears multiple hats since she’s also our publisher, our editor-in-chief, bottle washer, and just a general all-around stalwart shoulder to lean). I had the great fortune to spend a bit more time with Stargate Atlantis Legacy‘s artful and insightful writers Melissa Scott and Jo Graham. I bunked with Laura Harper (co-author of SG-1’s Apocalypse series currently including Hostile Ground and Exile) who made sleeping all the more challenging since she was so much fun to talk with late into the night and then first thing in the morning as we gulped down coffee, our eyes still bleary from the night before. (Side note: Laura served as editor on my first foray into writing for Stargate SG-1: Four Dragons.)
What really made the weekend so inspirational was a breakfast we hosted for the readers on Saturday. Because of how Creation Con only uses one room for panels, Q&As, etc., we had wanted more than one opportunity to connect with the readers (besides having them come to our table to buy our books, which hey! That was great, too!). Since our panel was going to be about us — the writers — I had suggested we make the breakfast be about THE READERS. Afterall, they’re the ones who really keep the franchise afloat. As authors, we’re more like the oarsmen in a boat.
During that breakfast, I found myself repeatedly inspired by each reader’s tale of how they came to love the franchise… And what that love did to propel them through extraordinarily difficult times. One reader re-discovered her ability to ‘fight the good fight’ against Stage 2 breast cancer, and the horrific chemotherapy that goes with it, while cheering on Jack and SG-1, then Sheppard and the Atlantis crew. Another reader who was suffering from severe postpartum grabbed hold of the series and held on while she pushed through the challenges that go with such a seriously misunderstood syndrome. Another reader told a tale of using the franchise as a way to connect her young son to her husband who was away, serving in the military. That family would use each episode as an opportunity to chat about a common interest, and along the way, the son got a bit of a better insight into what his father did, even if Stargate is fantasy, and serving is a hard reality that includes genuinely being at risk.
Later in the weekend, I had the opportunity to talk with a guy who discovered SG-1 while recovering from two broken legs. Another guy turned out to be a fellow film-maker and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan. We’ve been ‘gabbing’ ever since on Facebook. Yet another guy had lost his job thanks to the balloon pop of the early days of internet start-ups, and ended up going into the armed services as a career. He’s never looked back. Has no regrets. And to this day, continues to watch an SG-1 episode whenever he can because ‘it reminds him of what he lost and what he gained.’
As a writer, I am often cloistered in my little office, and can lose sight of the bigger picture. Sometimes that loss chips away at my muse and I find myself in need of inspiration. Hearing these stories, connecting with fellow human beings who have the grace to share their tales of struggle, I get to re-discover how extraordinary every individual walking on this planet can be. Attending conventions brings that focus back. With joy and humility.
Photos and video from Creation Con’s 2015 Official Stargate Convention in Chicago: