I had the opportunity of attending LTUE: Life, the Universe, & Everything this past weekend. It is the longest-running, largest student-organized science fiction and fantasy symposium in the US. Indeed, this weekend was the 28th meeting of LTUE. It is hosted by Brigham Young University and not only does its longevity speak to its uniqueness so does its cost to attend: it's free.
"The purposes of this symposium are first, to provide a venue for scholarly examination of these genres; second, to accommodate and facilitate personal contact between aspiring and professional practitioners in the field; and third, to combine the depth of an academic symposium with the excitement of a science fiction convention. We are passionately devoted to the premise that the thought experiment of speculative fiction, in its breadth, variety, and color, is a rich personal and social laboratory for exploring the spiritual foundations of our temporal world."
I have attended this event for a few years now. I have some great memories of interesting panels and amazing keynote speakers, this year's Brandon Sanderson was no exception.
In fact, anytime you find yourself with the occasion of listening to Brandon Sanderson, it's an event you should endeavor to attend. A couple of years ago, Brandon was on a booktour for Elantris and, thanks to the efforts of a good friend, I had the fortune of lunching with Mr. Sanderson. Even then, a causul meeting over french onion soup, left an indelible impression.
As you may know, I'm a big fan of Orson Scott Card. It was OSC whose quote graces the cover of Elantris saying, "Elantris is the finest novel of fantasy to be written in many years."
This year's conference was as satisfying as ever. Brandon Mull was a big draw, hosting several Q&A sessions. James Dashner was as insightful and entertaining as ever, even adding his unique flavor to a live recording of Writing Excuses: Pacing with James Dashner. Not to mention a guest appearance by 80's hearthrob Richard Hatch, Apollo, of the original Battlestar Galactica series. Seen here with my good friend Sabine:
What was my overall take on the weekend? It was well worth my time, but here's the biggest thing I took away from a weekend rich with writing advice: stop talking about it and do it. Personally, I feel like I have many of the trappings of a writer: I have an alphasmart Dana for on-the-go writing. I've been a part of an amazing writer's group for several years now, I've attended a number of conferences, heck, I even painted a white board on the back of the door to my den, but what I have not done is write a full fledged novel (nanowrimo doesn't count.)
I don't take anything away from those who gave of their time and talent to LTUE; I am grateful for their selflessness and willingness to share, but the biggest impression left on me this year was just how much I haven't done. It's time to stop posing as a writer and make the decision to actually be a writer.