Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I.W.S.G.--Nerds Unite

Last year I attended a writers conference for science fiction and fantasy writers...and it was a little scary. Not because I worried about my outfit or wondered if I'd make friends like the first day of junior high, but because the attendees were scary themselves. It was a bonafide nerd fest that I wasn't quite prepared for.

Some people didn't seem to understand basic social skills--standing or sitting too close, interrupting a private conversation, stalking-like behavior. Not to mention the capes, swords, and number of times the word "dragon" was mentioned. They even held a class about basic social skills for writers, lol.

I get it, sometimes writers can be awkward introverts who don't get out much, and those who live and breathe stories not of this world are probably nerdier than your average writer. Of course I prided myself in being a completely normal, socially pleasant exception.

Last week, sorely in need of nourishment in the middle of a marathon writing day, I went to Taco Bell. I know, we'll save the health discussion for another time. :) It was a crowded lunchtime rush, and while waiting for my order, I took mental notes of the people around me as character studies: how would I convert her accent into writing, does this guy know he dresses like his mother picked out his outfit, is that teen boy really going to finish All That Food?

Then I glanced to a table filled with greasy dirty car mechanics, and a couple of them were staring at me--ME! And not because I had it going on, either. Their scrunched and disdained faces made that very clear. I looked down to see my capri sweats revealing legs I hadn't shaved in days and a family reunion t-shirt with a mysterious stain in front. I was clutching a handful of mild sauce packets like my life depended on it and swinging my receipt through the air to a frantic beat only I could hear.

And then it hit me...I'm a writing nerd. I acted as though this was the first daylight I'd seen in days, I people-watched without any sense of constraint, and my wardrobe--well, let's just say it was lucky I had clothes on at all.

Why am I worrying? Because next week I'm attending another writers conference where I'll be meeting A TON of writers I've only met online. I WAS excited, but now I'm insecure...will they think I'm socially awkward, look like the blob from outer space, wonder how I manage to function on a daily basis? Also, does it matter? I don't know.

Calling all nerds, how long did it to take you to guess what movie this is from?

Also, ever notice how many characters Tom Cruise plays who are named Jack?


Brandon Ax said...

As soon as I heard the voice I

I don't think you should worry so much. As writers we reach across the spectrum of human behavior, but at the end of the day I think you should just have fun and not care if your someone's idea of outcast.

Suzanne Furness said...

I think I would try and remember others at the conference will probably be feeling anxious too. I have never had the chance to attend anything like this but try and have fun and enjoy it - I'm sure you will :)

And yes I had noticed that thing about Tom Cruise and the name Jack, I was talking to my husband about it only the other day after we had been to see Oblivion! Thanks for the unicorn clip I can now skip to work this morning feeling warm inside.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I forgot the name but saw it years ago. Damn he was in Jack Reacher just last year. Many will feel anxious at the conference, trust me you'll fit right in. Just don't pass out and enjoy yourself.

Mark Koopmans said...


Stopping by as a co-host for IWSG and I bring you greeting (and some mild taco sauce) from Alex.)

PS... sounds to me like you are fairly squared away (you are a writer) so I know the conference will be a success.

I *love* walking into a room of strangers and the first question is: So which genre are you?

(For almost a day - the first time - I kept on saying "Male, of course" and could never understand the looks I got :)

Unknown said...

I wouldn't worry too much, you've described (perfectly) how a lot of writers feeling. Hopefully you'll actually feel more comfortable in a social environment filled with people who are just like you! I hope you enjoy it :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Writing conferences are one of the few places I feel comfortable. Everyone there loves writing and books and if you suddenly stop talking and scribble away in your notebook, no one blinks an eye - they just wait for you to finish and then continue the conversation. :)

jaybird said...

Legend has been watched so many times here at the Bird's Nest. It's one of my daughter's favorites.

First of all, I think it's hella cool that you think "outside the bun". I have been known to hit up Taco Bell drive up window, well after normal people have retired for the evening, lol.

I am a Nerd. With a capital N. But I am an unusually loud and proud completely outgoing type of nerd. I don't think you have to worry about meeting anyone you already know through blogging, because (1) you are awesome (2) I am sure whoever you meet will be feeling the exact same way you are: insecure.

Have a wonderful time at the conference. Enjoy yourself!!

Robin said...

Yes, others at the conference will be feeling like you too *cough, cough* Be your awesome mild-sauce-packet-clutching self and we will ALL love you. We already do:)

Weaver said...

Oh, my heck but he looks young. My kids liked that movie but I never saw it.

ilima said...

Brandon-You're so right, I shouldn't care.

Suzanne-Weird about Tom as Jack, right? My husband and I were talking about it too.

Sheena-kay-It's LEGEND!

Mark-Thanks for co-hosting and stopping by!

Rachael-If everyone's just like me, it might be scary indeed. Haha.

Madeline-So true! It's one place where it's okay to have imaginary friends. :)

Jaybird-I am NOT loud and proud, but for some reason I'm craving me some Mexican pizza right now. :)

Robin-I can't wait to see you next week!

Mark Means said...

You'll be fine, just remember that you're among (nerdy) friends and it will help get you along.

Have a good time!

Jennie Bennett said...

You have nothing to worry about! We'll be best buddies right away. Don't be too shocked when I hug you :)

Carrie-Anne said...

I know someone who acts rather like the nerds you described at the convention. She seriously creeps around the room like Nosferatu and creeps up on people, and her voice is even more nasally than Fran Drescher's Nanny voice. I stay far away from her now after she crossed the line with me one too many times (constantly touching me without permission and sneaking up behind me), but I can still see her doing the same thing to everyone else. Some people just won't or can't learn how to interact properly in social settings.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is hysterical! Really, us science fiction geeks aren't all strange.
Just go be you and enjoy!

ilima said...

Donna-He's just a kid, isn't he?

Mark-We can be geeks together!

Jennie-Aw. I'll hug you right back!

Carrie-Anne-Ugh. She sounds scary.

Alex-Maybe you are but you just don't know it, lol. Ignorance is bliss! :)

Ali Cross said...

Oh my gosh! I forgot he played a JACK in Legend, too! *facepalm*

I was totally laughing at your post. Not in a finger-pointing-look-at-that-wacko sort of way but in a man-can-I-ever-relate way. :P

I totally agree with the other commenters who said that most writers probably feel the exact same way as you! I am completely dorky in real life. I constantly forget what I'm saying, forget THINGS I think I should remember, stick my foot in my mouth (without pulling the other one out first), and the list goes on and on. You are not alone!

What conference are you going to next week? I'm going to be at the Storymakers conference in Utah. You wouldn't by any chance be going to that one, would you?? *fingers crossed*

Nick Wilford said...

Being a nerd should be embraced! I think life's too short to worry what people think about you. (What they think about my writing... that's another matter altogether!) I'm jealous of all the conventions - just go and have fun!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi, visiting from the IWSG. Being a nerd is cool. Pretty envious that you are going for all these writing conferences/conventions. I haven't been to even one.

Rachna Chhabria
Co-host IWSG
Rachna's Scriptorium

ilima said...

Ali-Yes, I'll be at Storymakers. I'll be the one with the mild sauce packets. We can put our feet in our mouths together!

Nick-Embrace the nerd. I want to make a t-shirt of that now. Or would that make me even nerdier?

Rachna-Thanks for cohosting IWSG this month! I think it's more acceptable to be a nerd today than it used to be.

Debra McKellan said...

I'm reading this at work and can't see the video, but I don't think I've met a not-socially awkward writer yet. You should be with brethren when you go to the conference. :)

Nice to meet you!

Emily R. King said...

LOL! This is great, Ilima. You know, we all have our good and bad days. I wish I had seen you at Taco Bell. I would have given you a hug. :)

Tammy Theriault said...

Oh no just picked the wrong spot. Now if you went to!

T Drecker said...

Embrace the nerd. I need one of those T-shirts! Going out during writing marathons is dangerous - feels like landing on Mars.
I'm sure you'll have a great time!

ilima said...

Debra-Haha. Maybe I was just fooling myself thinking I was normal. :)

Emily-I'll take that hug at Storymakers! :)

Tammy-Oy. I think you're right.

Tonja-I know, right? What is that giant yellow orb in the sky?