Like everyone else, I didn’t really know what to expect when I saw the announcement for NerdCon:Stories. I just knew it was for me. Partially because, well, I REALLY like stories, and partially because it was taking place 10 minutes from my house.
One thing I knew for sure I wanted to do was help. As a novelist seeking publication and as a pretty hard-core planner, I saw NerdCon as a great chance to get a behind the scenes look at a FanCon (which is what I assumed this would be, and–turns out–was a pretty good guess.) My first experience with NerdCon was working the registration desk on Thursday evening. It was eerily quiet and I got a great chance to meet other volunteers. It’s also where I figured out this wouldn’t be like other cons.
Everyone I talked to had a story.
Not only that, they were ready and eager to share it. Even the people picking up badges were excited to share their adventure of getting there.
The next day I went from helper person with a mission back to introvert without back-up. I’m a rare breed of outgoing-introvert, but that skill only kicks in when I know at least one person or I feel comfortable. Friday morning, while not uncomfortable, wasn’t fully comfortable either. So I laughed at the crew of the Artemis and tweeted as I am wont to do. Then I attended session after session and realized that the guests were amazing and the attendees were even more amazing. I also learned poetry about a bagpiper can be so very, very wrong.
And then came the Storyteller’s Circle, where I didn’t get to share, but I did get to listen and listening was even more amazing. If you think the people who presented at NerdCon:Stories were the only storytellers, you missed the most amazing part. Even though I went home right after, I was finally comfortable.
That’s why I made jokes with the guys seated next to me as we waited for the morning session. That’s why Jeffrey Cranor made me cry. That’s why I met an amazing woman who coordinates an international spoken word poetry website to connect people who love poems (pangaeapoetry.com). That’s why I met a man who writes Magic: the Gathering blog posts. That’s how I met two women whose lives were changed by Rainbow Rowell and were glowing simply because they’d gotten her signature.
That’s why, when my last volunteer session came and I was responsible for escorting fans to get signatures I was able to smile the whole time. I even helped convert them into fans of people they never would have thought to be fans of. And that’s why, when Mr. Steven Brust walked past me I was confident enough to ask to shake his hand, even though I’m still mad at him about making Adrilankha unmappable but forgave him years ago when he finally wrote Lady Teldra’s story. And why I cried again because of how meaningful that moment suddenly was.
Yes, I told some of my stories. Yes, I entertained when I had the opportunity. But, I also listened and let other stories touch me. And THAT made it even more magical.
So thank you performers, attendees, but mostly thank you NerdCon:Stories crew for creating a space where those who love every kind of story could gather together and be comfortably ourselves.