When I heard that Hank Green, half of the Vlogbrothers and creative thinker extraordinaire, had created a convention based entirely around sharing and examining the idea of story, of how and why and where and to whom we tell our stories and craft our narratives, I just had to go. The two-day convention was held in Minneapolis, where featured guests and attendees gathered for everything from a panel entitled “Mental Health in YA Literature” to a lip sync battle between 3 of the featured speakers.
Several of the panels I attended were centered around women creators. “A Brief Exploration of Feminist Publishing” discussed the history of publishing women’s stories and continuing to make those stories available, because they are more than just a passing trend. “Centering Women in Fiction: Revealing Your Unconscious Bias” tackled the issue of learned biases that even we women carry with us, and what we can do about that lack of representation and lack of support in being women creators. And both of those panels yielded connections with a great group of fellow creative women who I am so looking forward to collaborating with and supporting (especially as we dive into NaNoWriMo!).
My other activities included a kaffeeklatsch with Saladin Ahmed, being declared Queen of the Dragons in a puppet show by the good folks of Depict-O-Mat, and meeting one of my internet friends from a favorite blog in person. I discovered, much like PNWA, that social interactions at NerdCon: Stories were not as forced or as awkward as elsewhere in life. We all had similar enough interests that small talk started with things like, “Who would win in a fight, a unicorn or a wizard T-rex?” and only got more creative/bizarre from there. It was lovely just to listen to people talk about their craft and the things they notice in this world and in their own ways.
I was also lucky enough to attend two talks given by John Green. The first was an interview for the podcast The Writers Panel with Ben Blacker, and the second was a shorter talk, which you can read here, given at the end of the Saturday afternoon variety show. All I could feel was gratitude that this articulate, intelligent, compassionate writer was willing to not only use his platform to bring greater awareness to mental illness, but to share his own personal struggles with his audience. It had to be difficult. It had to be scary. And he owed us none of it.
But he did it anyway. He let us in, and it touched the people there in a visceral way.
If there is a NerdCon: Stories next year, I highly recommend it to all creative types who love storytelling, story listening, or just the concept of communicating stories to other people.