The GRL Experience
A big thank you to Rainbow Gold Reviews for this guest spot on the GRL Blog Tour. It’s odd how on one hand it seems like yesterday I was preparing for my first GRL in Chicago last year, and on the other hand it seems like forever I’ve been waiting for the excitement of San Diego to arrive.
Here we are in July, with October speeding up on us. I wondered what I could write for this guest spot, because I didn’t particularly want to talk about my books, or upcoming new releases, promo, or anything like that. I wanted to talk specifically about GRL. For those who don’t know me, I’ll quickly introduce myself. I’ve been writing MM fiction since… umm… 2009 (I think). I’m also an artist, I design book covers and own Scarlet Tie Designs. When I meet you at GRL, although my lanyard will say Zathyn Priest, I’ll introduce myself by my real name, which is Zac. Or Zachary, either/or.
As I said, Chicago 2014 was my first GRL. It was a massive thing for me to do in many different ways. From conquering my morbid fear of flying, to travelling from Australia to the USA alone, to being confronted by a throng of people when I got there. My reason for going was to thank everyone who had been loyal to me throughout the time I struggled with self-doubt as a writer. To see if I could recapture the joy for writing I used to feel when I first started. Mostly, I did not want to leave GRL without leaving part of my heart and soul with the people I met. As an author, this was important to me. More important than anything else, because readers are the ones who give their hearts and souls to us each time they fall in love with our characters and books. I believe that is an honour we, as writers, should never take for granted.
However, recently it was brought to my attention that there were some people at GRL who were intimidated by me. It got me thinking about this circumstance and what to do about it when it happens. In the cases I heard about, it was my ‘look’ that made some people keep away. I wear black, I wear makeup, I’m an androgynous Goth, and yes it does appear daunting sometimes. I often say I’m a dark, freaky, creature of the night Goth on the outside and a flower power lovechild hippie on the inside. So, please, don’t hesitate in coming over and saying hello to me. I’m incredibly friendly, will talk the leg off a chair, and would love to meet you. And if, by chance, I can’t stop for a long chat, the reason would be because I’m rushing to get to a signing, or panel, or something similar.
GRL is an experience unto itself. For those who have been before, we know what to expect. For first-timers, it can be very overwhelming. You’re thrown into a situation where you are suddenly surrounded by the ‘real people’ attached to the names on book covers or your Facebook friend list. Do you approach, or do you stay away because they are standing with others? Are you too shy to say hello? Did you say hello to someone else an hour before, that didn’t go quite to plan, and you’re now too nervous (or annoyed) to approach another? Or, are they a scary androgynous Goth in black? There are four hundred plus people at GRL, with events happening most of the time, and it’s a buzz of activity. It can be easy for people to feel they’ve become lost in the crowd and withdraw to their rooms.
Among the four hundred plus buzzing around the GRL hotel, it may be inevitable that someone during the retreat does not live up to another’s expectation. Believe me, I’ve heard this, and then heard how it dampened the GRL experience. What I’m trying to say is… Please don’t let it! Perhaps the ‘hi’ with person A didn’t go so well, but more than likely it will with person B, C, D. Even if person A was your main reason for attending GRL in 2015, it may very well be person B, C, D who touches your heart so much you return in 2016.
GRL last year was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of my life. I met wonderful people, had an amazing time, and will treasure the experience forever. I’m thrilled to be attending again this year. But, I do think so much of this incredible experience is what you make of it. I honestly do. Walk in there with an open mind, a bright smile, a friendly attitude, and leave egos behind. That’s my advice to everyone. Do that, and you’ll have the time of your life. And, hey, if someone doesn’t say hi, it isn’t the end of the world. There are plenty more people there who will, and they’ll welcome you with open arms.
Author Website – http://www.zathynpriest.com
I would like to give a big Thank You to Zathyn Priest for taking the time to stop by RGR to tell us a little bit about the GRL experience.