September 12-14, I was in Austin, Texas, at the Fiction Unboxed World Building Summit. The weekend was essentially a mastermind group (read: amazing) where we all got together to brainstorm rules and details for a whole fictional world that anyone can write in.
In a nutshell: My weekend in Austin was life-changing and career-making and could never be duplicated.
I know that is a GIANT, sweeping statement, but I stand behind it … for so many reasons.
The people: Johnny, Sean and Dave (authors behind Sterling & Stone, the Self-Publishing Podcast, and this live event) are some of the most generous people I’ve ever met. Every step of the way they were very careful to make sure we all had our questions answered and our voices heard. The ways that they have planned to support our books and our work in the world is so much more than I could have hoped. They even went out of their way even to pay for coffee every morning and surprised us with a big stack of autographed paperbacks to take home (completely unexpected).
I feel personally closer to these three than I expected and feel like I could email any one of them with a question about anything and I’d get an answer (I’ve already started thinking about books to recommend to Sean for his daughter).
And that isn’t even considering the other attendees (Garrett, Monica, Matt and Kalvin). There were only 5 of us total … so, yea, only 8 people in the room. So intimate and personal. Such great senses of humor. Such professional story-telling and problem-solving skills. I am beyond excited to read what everyone writes. There are some amazing ideas that came up and all our skills and strengths really fit together well. I can’t believe we got so lucky as to have so many smart people in a room.
The conversation: I do not remember when I have ever laughed so hard (especially dinner Saturday night when I sat across the table from Dave and Sean’s incredibly sunny 12-year-old daughter). We talked about so much more than world-building stuff — marketing plans, series vs serials, cover art resources, dealing with negativity, and so much more. Professional challenges. Five-year plans. Human nature. Big ideas. Flower metaphors (Sean’s favorite). Again, I love being in a room of smart people.
The tasks: We were literally creating this world almost from scratch. Totally ground floor up. The map and history and lore and global politics all the way down to the nitty gritty of what the homes of my characters look like. That will never happen again (I cannot imagine they will every want to maintain a second huge shared world). Total once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to not only create a world from the beginning but also get built in promotional benefit from full-time authors.
There is such a benefit to being there from the beginning, to being one of the very first. Just another reason it was so important that I attend this event (instead of wishlist-it for the future). The books that I will write count as canon in the world. Someday other writers might write fan fiction about my characters or my setting…. which is crazy to think of but not impossible.
I can’t stop thinking about the whole weekend. I need 40 more hours in every week just to do all the work stemming from that weekend that I am so enthusiastic about.
All that to say … admittedly, future events will be different: The combination of people, the number of people, the amount of development that needs to be done in the world, even where each attendee is at in their career. September 13 and 14, 2014 were very special in a way that no other weekend could be.
That said …. if you are interested in writing and have the opportunity to attend a future event with Johnny, Sean and Dave, I would for sure recommend it. I am tentatively planning on attending the Colonists’ Summit in the Spring, simply to see these people again and spend 2 days talking about books.
Even if you don’t go to a Sterling & Stone writing event, definitely think about attending a live event in your industry. I know so many of us are introverts and like staying behind the screen, but it makes such a difference to be there in person. But, that’s a post for another day.
As I mentioned in my earlier post …. this weekend was a lot about trust for me. I was putting forward a huge investment (for me) financially — much more than I am comfortable spending on almost anything. I could not have gone if it were solely up to me, but Andrew saw the benefit too and helped push me.
In deciding to attend the World Building Summit, I am trusting these guys for their whole career. Trusting that they would continue doing great work and continue doing it the right way. I am not just writing a book series — I’m writing a series that both supports and is supported by their work. And I personally have an even bigger leap, since these will be my first published work.
It was a huge step and now after spending that weekend with them I know I made the best decision. They gave more and did more than I could have ever imagined.
*(and Sean already told me he has every faith in me, so I even have that)