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Norwescon vs. Bitchin' Party - FIGHT!

(Mirrored from my Tumblr, for Mal and anyone else who can't bring themselves to make the platform leap.)

image VS   image

Sunday, near the end of Norwescon, I was speaking to an author, a lovely woman who was very much enjoying her first sci-fi/fantasy convention. She talked about what a fun, collaborative atmosphere Norwescon had, and contrasted it to the AWP conference she'd attended in Seattle a month earlier. She said Norwescon felt a bit like the folk music scene that had been a big part of her childhood.

I, on the other hand, couldn't help but compare Norwescon to the Bitchin' Party con I had attended the week before. The similarities: both are conventions created for fans, by fans, entirely by volunteers. Both took place on the outskirts of Seattle in mid-April. Both invited me as a panelist/moderator. (Yay!)

But there are huge differences. One is size! Bitchin' Party had 16 panels across two days, with maybe 150 people in attendance. There was a vid show, a dance, and a couple of movies and other events thrown in. Faniish pictionary, yay! Norwescon had 500 panels and events over 4 days, with 200 panelists and thousands of attendees. (I have no idea how many, so sorry!) There's a masquerade, an art gallery, loads of cosplay, people doing armor demos, a full schedule of games of all kinds, etc.

To me, the biggest difference was to do with atmosphere.  Neither con has 'celebrity guests', such as actors, but Norwescon has 'Attending Professionals' and 'Guests of Honor' that run the panels and events. Bitchin' Party's rule is, if you propose a panel for the con, you are volunteering to moderate it! When I arrived at Bitchin' Party on Saturday morning, I moved the chairs around, in the room where my first panel was scheduled, so they were in a big circle. Everyone left them that way all weekend, because we were there to talk TO EACH OTHER about the things we love. (OK, there was one exception - the Welcome to Nightvale panel was actually a piece of performance art in which the moderators wrote and performed a fan-made episode of 'Welcome to Nightvale' complete with people 'calling in' from the audience. How awesome is that? Very awesome!)

Norwescon's declaration of me as an Attending Professional amuses the hell out of me, since I am proudly, ostentatiously NOT a professional. I am a dedicated amateur in all of my fannish endeavors! As a moderator at Norweson, it was my job to come up with a basic structure for the panel, start and stop on time, come up with some questions to ask the other panelists, and allow the attendees some time to ask questions ... of the panelists. There was a distinctive positional authority to sitting up front at the big black table, with a table tent and glass of water. We were the experts, and the other folks in the room were positioned as audience, consumers, supplicants, or even, in the quite interesting and useful tech and workshop-style writing panels I attended, as (wow, how I hate this term) ASPIRING WRITERS.

Seriously, WTF is an aspiring writer? Someone who hasn't published professionally? Someone who has published, but never gotten paid for it? Someone who has written, and posted in a blog? Someone who has started a hundred stories, but never finished one? Someone who's posted stories on the AO3 only get a few dozen comments? Someone who sits at home on Friday nights and reads her LotR hurt/comfort epic to her cats? Someone who tells his kids bedtime stories worthy of Scheherazade, but has never written them down? Someone who can't find a freaking pencil when she needs one? IDEK.

I guess there's a whole spectrum of fandom conventions, from Bitchin' Party at one end to Creation-con fandom money-makers at the other, and Norwescon sits somewhere in the middle. Absolutely worth a long weekend, but going to both in quick succession left me reeling with some culture shock.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 24th, 2014 08:06 am (UTC)
♥ ♥ ♥
Apr. 29th, 2014 12:21 am (UTC)
They both sound like so much fun! If I wasn't all the way across the country I'd check one out one year. :) Did you read your work this time?

Aspiring writer is kind of an annoying term. What DOES it mean?

Edited to add: I saw your post about tumblir and though it does seem to be where fandom is these days, I'm too comfy here to venture over there. Plus I hear the spoilers are rife. :) So add me to the list of people who would miss you if you didn't cross post.

Edited at 2014-04-29 12:23 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )