Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Visiting LTUE from the Future

LTUE (Life, The Universe, and Everything) was a fantastic symposium on science fiction and fantasy writing. I flew out from Maryland to attend (I also have some family and friends there, so I got double out of the trip), and wanted to squeeze every possible drop of worth from the thing as possible so as to justify the cost.

Looking back, I have a few woulda-coulda-shoulda's. But in the scifi genre, we have a slightly less fatalistic phrase: Dedicate The Rest Of Your Life To Inventing A Time Machine So You Can Change The Past.

In that spirit, here's what I would tell my pre-LTUE self if I could travel back in time:

1. Talk to people sitting nearby. The most interesting and valuable people at LTUE aren't necessarily the ones doing all the presenting.

2. Take lots of notes. There's no way your brain is going to be able to retain all the advice it's going to receive over 3 days straight of sessions, no matter how interesting.

3. Take Dr. Collings up on the poetry consultation. You might be shy about your poem, but he'll give you some insightful, constructive advice that will help you look at poetry in a new way.

4. Prep meaningful questions for the presenters. Too much time will be wasted on dumb questions by dumb people, and instead of complaining about the dumb people, come up with some good questions of your own. These authors are a free resource for these three days, so plan to make good use of them.

5. Avoid going to too many panels, or at least know what you're getting into. A single blabbermouth will often dominate a panel with useless information or self-hype, while the intelligent panelists are too polite to cut them off in the name of discussion. In other cases, the moderator may not best know how to lead a meaningful discussion, or the audience will randomly call out awful questions. Some panels will be marvelous, but be aware that panels are harder to execute.

6. Look up the presenters in your program before going to their session. Otherwise you may find out too late that the person teaching you about writing has never actually been published, or you'll get to the end of a fantastic presentation and go, "Wait a minute, what does this guy do again?" If you particularly enjoy one person's insight, you can follow them to their other sessions. If you particularly dislike a certain panelist (this will happen to you), avoid further panels in which they participate. Knowing is half the battle (the other half is remembering).

7. Avoid brainstorm-focused sessions. Not that there's no worth to authors showing how an idea-creation process works... but as soon as they start involving the audience, things will go downhill. In such environments, people tend to be more silly than serious because they know that they have no actual investment in the idea. It will become slightly entertaining but also not very useful.

Prepare for a discussion of giant weasels to dominate 30 minutes of your life

8. Eat lunch early on Saturday. The kiddie dance competition and the final day of LTUE will combine to create a Perfect Storm and literally eat all the food out of the UVU food court, leaving nothing open by the time you'll go looking for grub.

9. Go to the dealer's room, and don't wait until Saturday to do so. You'll see a lot of nifty promotional items there--some for things you care about, others that you don't care about so much but the promotion is still cool--and you'll be able to talk in a more one-on-one setting with whoever's there. This is how you'll find out about, which, for some reason, you'll keep trying to type as "inkplague" for the following week.

10. Bet everything you own on Jeremy Lin hitting a game-winning three against Toronto for Valentine's Day.

Now to invent that time machine.


Karen Sandler said...

My time machine lesson would be to take the hotel shuttle from the Hampton to UVU right from the start instead of schlepping over on foot, risking my life dodging traffic.

I'm with you on the chatting with nearby folks. That kind of networking is the funnest part of conferences.

Carl Duzett said...

I kind of wish there were an easier way to get to know the other people--like some kind of scheduled luncheon or something.

Schmetterling said...

All this despite having gone through the trouble of developing a teleportation-enabled clone?

Karen Sandler said...

Some conferences have a social get-together before the start of the conference. Maybe something on Wednesday night? With a modest fee to cover the room & soft drinks? Folks could mingle & meet. Or even have a few silly icebreakers to get people interacting.

Carl Duzett said...

Yeah, the teleportation-enabled clone was a lot more trouble than he was worth.

But yeah, some kind of mingling thing like that would've been fun.

Jayrod Garrett said...

Carl and Karen, I'm actually going to be looking into talking with the folks who run the symposium for possibly a way to have some mingle time between all the people there. While we get great information, we also need the network to fully utilize what we are learning among our peers. Hopefully that would help us out a lot. (I like the scheduled luncheon idea.)