(This is not an official GCLS communique. These brilliant ramblings belong solely to the warped, but lovely mind of me, Beth Burnett and do not necessarily reflect the views of GCLS, but most certainly align with Carleen Spry and her travel monster baby. <See GCLS Facebook page>)
The GCLS annual conference is an epic adventure with hundreds of women gathering to discuss books, writing, reading, the benefits of hiking boots over Birkenstocks, and so much more.
We offer panels and master classes with some of the most beloved authors in lesbian fiction. There are lunches and dinners and ice cream socials and karaoke and a theme night. Not to mention the awards show and dancing.
The conference is a wonderful time and for some women, a chance to be out and proud among hundreds of lesbians…. a chance to be themselves, some for the first time. It can be the most incredible, eye-opening experience ever. And it can be totally overwhelming.
It helps to know what to expect and it helps to have some coping tools just in case the awesomeness becomes a wee bit too much.
- If this is your first con, come to the con virgins meeting. It is a smaller group and is intended to give a fun introduction to the other new attendees and the board.
- Go to panels and presentations and classes that pique your interest. Anyone is welcome to attend any panel or class. You will meet others who are interested in the same things.
- If you have never written a novel, or if you have written a novel but never published a novel, or you have written and published ten novels, you are a person. No one is above anyone else, no one holds more weight than you. Our members are *all* a part of the wonder that is GCLS and we need you all.
- Introverts unite! If you’re nervous about getting to meet people, contact your Directors of Membership and ask if you can volunteer. You won’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Some people excel at meeting and greeting, others are happier stuffing bags. There’s something for everyone and it’s a great way to meet others.
- People are really willing to help. Look for board members (we wear special ribbons on our name tags) if you are feeling lonely or overwhelmed or if you have any questions.
- Remember that even some who have been going to con for years can feel shy or awkward. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who looks as if they are sitting alone.
- Take some down time. Go to your room, find a quiet corner, go sit on the grounds, put on some headphones and walk on the treadmill in the hotel gym. Down time is important for recharging.
- Self-care is sexy! (And very important!) Take care of you. If you need help and advice on how to do that, come see the presentation by myself and author Karen Richard on Self-Care for Writers and those who love them.
- Expect to regret that you won’t get to go to everything you want to attend! We offer a very full program to appeal to as many people as possible and there will be times where you want to be in two or three places at once. Just remember you can always come back next year!
- Lastly, just be yourself. We are all a little weird, we are all a little awesome. Be you and find your people.