In the process of settling my profile page at Todd McCaffrey’s new BigEep world-changing community, I read over my personal information and realized that suddenly, after all this time, SF/Fantasy cons look out of place. Surrounded by so many pastimes that are more meaningful to me, it seems almost like I should take SF/Fantasy cons and put it somewhere else—maybe somewhere that includes the TV shows I like, or the board games I play with friends. But I knew after just a few moments of thinking about it that I wasn’t going to move it. And this past Aggiecon in College Station is why.
Ever since Marty and I altered the fundamental nature of our situation and he quit his day job, I have noticed a new effect that he has on people—especially people at cons. They take notice of him because when he’s sitting at a table piled high with his artwork, it’s very obvious that he’s doing what he loves. Passersby inevitably ask if this is what he does for a living—or if he has another job paying the bills. When he says yes, this is his full-time job, the wheels start turning in their heads. I can see it. Something starts to change them.
I never had this effect on people at conventions because it was never particularly apparent that I was supporting myself doing whatever the hell I wanted. Even if it had been, there is nothing so visual as sitting at a vendor table hawking your own gory, colorful, detail-rich creations. Having partnered with Marty, I suddenly had a way of affecting people that I hadn’t considered. I didn’t have to tell them anything. I only had to help Marty be who he was naturally, do what he was meant to do, and these people came to him, saw what he was doing, and it changed them.
Blew. My. Mind.
At Aggiecon this year, the effect was pronounced. Several of our new friends had that look on their faces when they came by to chat. These were people who craved something special for themselves and didn’t know how to get it. I found myself in a position to be encouraging, maybe even a little insistent. There is a way to make your life what you want it to be. There is a way to change things to make yourself happy. It’s hard and it’s work, but there is nothing in the world more worth it if only you can give it a chance. I didn’t have a plan at Aggiecon—I didn’t know that I would be faced with such incredible opportunities to help other people. I handed out a few of Naomi’s cards, thinking at the time, I think, about the SpeakEasy (before it had closed its doors). I wasn’t sure what else I could do but be positive, tell them it was possible, tell them people cared and they could get help making the changes they wanted to make.
Now, I think I might have a plan. I don’t intend to let any more of those opportunities pass me by.
But obviously SF/Fantasy cons needs to stay in my profile, along with all the other meaningful work I want to do. It’s amazing how the elements of our lives can stay the same, but somehow become completely different—and better all the time.