So, over the weekend, Sarah and I went to writerconuk, a pleasantly tiny (slightly over 20 people) convention for fan writers, readers, betas, vidders, artists, and just generally creative people to gather together. We drove up to Coventry on the Friday evening after work, arriving just in time for the evening meal, although as that was an Indian meal I passed on it and just settled in the hotel room having a quiet read and watching William Shatner's rather splendid appearance on HIGNFY. However, I joined Sarah and some of the other con-goers afterwards in the bar.
The main convention events were on the Saturday, and consisted of a variety of talks, by ningloreth on banner-making (of the jpeg variety, not of the waving in the air variety), and then others on sex in fic, death in fic, and plagiarism. All were interesting, particularly (IMO) the first and the last. The first, indeed, inspired me to cobble together a little banner (as I had my laptop with me and the hotel wi-fi was pretty good) for one of Sarah's TF G1 stories. However, I made a fundamental mistake of using TFA images ('cos they're easier to get hold of, and they're against a plain white background making them a jolly sight easier to crop...), whereas as Sarah pointed out it's specifically the G1 image that's relevant to the fic. Also, I got the title wrong - I went from the post title rather than the title of the fic. Still, I've kept the GIMP file that I created as well as the jpg, so I can rework it. Indeed I've already downloaded images of the relevant bots for just that purpose. They're against backgrounds and they don't have shoulders. So hey, there's a challenge that we were taught about!
Throughout the day the talks were interspersed with refreshments and a lunch. It's one of the first cons (nay, the first) I've been to where all the attendees stayed together for the lunch, which I think made for a wonderful atmosphere, as we spent the time actually getting to know each other.
In the late afternoon, we split up into three groups for the purpose of writing three fics which would combine together into one long fic called "Cake on the Nile" (because, as any fule kno, cake is better than death). Our group was tasked with writing the "bad sex!fic" bit (preceded by "bad romance!fic" and followed by "bad death!fic"). Inspired by two little action figures we had about us, we worked as hard as could to throw every possible appalling cliché into a piece of Willow/Angel bad sex!fic (sample opening line: "With a manly lunge, Angel ripped off Willow’s clothes and smothered her in Victoria Sandwich"), although I probably made it better than it needed to be by trying to have something approximating a plot. I know, I'm terrible.
That was followed by a raffle (we all had a ticket in our convention goodie bag, which was put together by bogwitch, and there were enough prizes that all of us was guaranteed at least one prize, and many of us got two. I walked off with a complete set of Nev Fountain's Mervyn Stone mysteries, which I'm looking forward to reading, and a DVD of Cowboy Bebop - the Movie, which I'm looking forward to watching.
After that, there was a brief break (I had a nap) before the evening banquet, another good opportunity to get to know each other - and despite being a famously fussy b*gger when it comes to food, I managed to find things to enjoy, particularly salmon in a butter and parsley sauce for the main course, which was very pleasant.
That was followed by most of us popping down to the bar to watch Eurovision on the big screen whilst supping drinks (oh, there'd been cocktails earlier; I quite enjoyed the Virgin Strawberry Mojito, and am probably going to try to make one of my own at some point). It was enjoyable fun in a "taking the pee extensively" kind of way, whilst Sarah and tlanti plotted about crafting an Iron Man costume for tlanti to wear, but although not being able to make out most of the lyrics is probably an enviable position to be in, I eventually decided to head back up for bed. Apart from anything else, I was getting tired by this point, so fair enough. FWIW, I quite enjoyed what I could make out of the Danish entry, and thought it was a pity that didn't win.
The following day was much shorter - a 10:00am start was followed by a prizegiving (Sarah won the "Fandom means never having to explain your T-shirt" award for her "This universe is sold by mass, not volume" one. I still have to admit to not really getting the joke, but there y'go.) (The previous day, curiouswombat had been wearing her rather wonderful tube map of Middle Earth t-shirt, which had prompted the comment from one of our number, "so that's why one does not simply walk into Mordor...".); then an AGM, and finally, a grand presentation of the three bad romance/sex/death fics, with accompanying performances by various action figures/Barbie dolls, songs by quinara and tlanti, and at least one fic being displayed on the big screen to show off the fact that a whole section was lifted from Wikipedia and was therefore a.) plagiarised ("citation needed!"), and b.) in a different font to the rest of the fic.
The whole thing wound up at around midday, and Sarah and I had a wonderful time and have decided to definitely go to next year's one, whenever it is (it will be sometime in August, which is its usual home but which it vacated this year because large chunks of the country will be in a state of gridlock around then what the whole Olympics thingy going on). But yes, a lovely bunch of people, a great experience, and most of all - great fun. Also, the hotel (the Ramada) was generally a pleasant (and not desperately expensive) place to stay, and the staff were very friendly and welcoming. As I've had bad experiences in the past with hotel staff not really getting on well with con-goers and/or organisers, I don't think it should be ignored when they do their level best to make it a pleasant experience.
Back home, via Newport Pagnell services 'cos I fancied a KFC (I fancy a KFC quite a lot, actually). And then I rested a bit. And then...well, this entry's already been quite long, so that can be in the next entry...