Event Review: Sci-Fi Weekender 2013

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Introduction: Why We Went

I am relatively new to conventions. I dislike crowds and noise, so they aught to be the very embodiment of a place where I would not want to be under any circumstances. However, I actually find them to be quite fun. Once or twice a year, I “let down my hair” and attend gatherings of geeks and Guests, partake in Workshops, listen to Talks, play games, watch films, and generally have a good time.

I had heard a lot of amazing things about The Sci-Fi Weekender, and I decided that, in all my capacities as fan, journalist, and photographer, I absolutely had to attend this year.

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“Gig” overload!

So, after almost an entire year of writing and photographing, half the period of which suffered delays due to ill health, I am, as regular readers will know, “back in the game”, out-and-about again, and busy as ever.

I have attended two conventions in two weekends (one of which – GEEK – I received my first ever Press Pass for) and I have been networking my heart out at both, doing detailed write-ups, photographing hundreds, if not thousands of shots every day… and, apparently, it is paying off.

Self Portrait.

Self Portrait.

I am absolutely ruddy exhausted after all this work (including two thirteen hour coach journeys!) but, as aforementioned, “Nothing worth anything is ever easy”.

So, here I am, two months into my New Year’s Resolution, and I have been offered not one, not two, but seven, yes, seven, unpaid “gigs” for both my writing and my photography.

I know that unpaid is not the goal, but ultimately, it will drive me there. Last year I showed a lot of progress in a short period of time, and I was indeed offered paid work, which I turned down on principle due to my lack of experience. But, with seven unpaid jobs currently in negotiation for the coming weeks and months, I may yet gain the experience, Portfolio and references that I feel I need in order to accept paid work.

Success!

I just noticed, I have succeeded in one of my short-term goals, having posted an update to my Blog seven days in a row.

And, as the research suggests, I am indeed feeling more motivated and more able to continue in my long-term goal of becoming a professional*, aka “earn money from my journalism and photography”.

So, on to my next targets…

Target(s) Update

Last month I posted a list of short-term goals to push me towards my long-term goal of becoming a professional, to “earn money from my journalism and photography”.

A few weeks later, and I have not actually succeeded in any of the tasks that I set myself, admittedly, but I have in several rather important others, and I am working my way slowly towards the rest.

Progress on existing goals

  • “Gain 200 Likes on my FaceBook Page”
    I am almost at the one-hundred milestone, halfway to that goal. With two very large conventions on the way in the coming weeks and business cards aplenty to hand out, I am hoping that will bring me many more Fans…
  • “Update website to have price list, references, etc, to encourage potential paid work”
    I am currently redesigning my website to do that, and more.

New goals I am now setting myself are

  • “Update the Blog seven days in a row.”
    This goal was born from the fact that, this week, I have updated three days (four, as of this Post) in a row. So why not push myself for a full week?
  • “Complete three Challenges set by my FaceBook Fans”
    I posted a request for “challenges” a couple of weeks back, and there has been a good response so far. It will be good practice, and set me on-track for working outside of my comfort zone and to targets, etc.
    Would you like to challenge me? View the FaceBook Post here, Comment with a suggestion below, or Tweet me.

And, with two conventions scheduled and potential (non-paid) “gigs”, that New Year’s Resolution is coming along quite nicely…

February is a busy month!

Making up for a long absence… 

After much drought with my journalism and photography due to ill health, I have started anew in 2013, and I am flinging myself straight into the deep end, with a busy schedule of events to attend and report on, potential photography “gigs”, and a long list of articles, interviews and reviews to write up.

My New Year’s Resolution seems to be right on schedule, with the past few weeks being more productive than the past few months of work.

First on the list is spending the next couple of days typing up the interviews from Euro Gamer 2012, a long overdue task that I hope will be well worth the wait. I had the pleasure of speaking with Special Effect! about their charity who work to make computer games accessible to everyone, even those with mental and/or physical disabilities, and two young gentleman who were part of the team who’s original game won Virgin Media’s 100 Day Challenge.

This weekend is GEEK (Game Expo East Kent) 2013, a games-dedicated convention held throughout Margate, which I shall be reporting on and photographing. I hope to bring you updates at the end of each day.

The weekend after is The Sci-Fi Weekender, a residential convention held in Wales which will require a thirteen hour coach ride to travel to and cost a tidy fortune and a lot of organising to get tickets for, but will be well worth the effort. There is a very prestigious list of Guests, Talks, film showings, and even a party DJed by none other than Craig Charles, aka Lister of Red Dwarf! It will be a big task to report on, but I welcome the challenge and I hope I can share my experiences with you as-and-when they happen.

There are also plenty of artistic photographs almost ready to share with you, a couple of potential unpaid photography “gigs”, and my website, though it has been offline for several weeks now, looks as though it might (fingers crossed!) finally be fixed (“within 48 hours”).

So… A busy month indeed! I hope it will compensate for my lengthy absence and get me back on track.

Keep watching this space.

Challenge. Accepted.

Quote

“Nothing worth anything in life is ever easy”

This is something that I often say to people, and it defines the very principle by which I live my life. Life is the most worthwhile thing in the world, and is therefore the most difficult.

As I have posted about recently in my article about New Year’s Resolutions, I have suffered many personal issues this past year that have really pushed me from my path of becoming a professional journalist and photographer. Because, life is not easy.

Barney Stinson quote, How I Met Your Mother

“When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True story” – Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother

I have made it very clear to myself, my friends, my family, and my readers, that this year I have every intention of finding a balance between my personal and professional life, and earning money from my photography and journalism.

It is not going to be easy, at times it will be darned hard, but it is going to be really worthwhile. So, as Barney Stinson of the How I Met Your Mother television series has said many, many times…

“Challenge Accepted!”

I am breaking down my target into short-term, more achievable goals

  • Advertise my services
  • Gain 200 Likes on my FaceBook Page
  • Update website to have price list, references, etc, to encourage potential paid work
  • Send selection of works from photography and journalistic Portfolios to magazines and newspapers for consideration of publication
  • Brainstorm ideas and write enough “short and sweet” articles to set up the Blog to publish one every week for two months. This will develop my ability to write shorter articles and within a time limit.
  • Type up the interviews from Euro Gamer Expo 2012 and publish them
  • etc, etc, etc – more targets on the way soon!

I shall be posting updates on my progress, which you can follow in my Personal Progress Blog category, Subscribe to my updates with the ‘Stay Informed’ button on my starting page, ‘Follow’ me on my Twitter, or ‘Like’ my Fan Page on FaceBook.

If you have any comments or suggestions to help my in my task, I encourage you to Comment or Message me.

Image credit: Offset-Zero of deviantART

New Year, Fresh Start

Introduction
Irony can be quite harsh! I initially wrote this article at the very start of the new year, but, thanks to a huge influx of personal problems, I am only now posting it, which is precisely what the topic is about: my New Year’s Resolution to balance my personal life and my professional efforts.

So, it would appear that thus far, I am not succeeding very well in my task, but, here is my article, finished, and published. A start, though a delayed one, is better than no start at all.

Thank you all for your patience.

Article

NEW YEAR, FRESH START
a history lesson and a fresh perspective on new year’s resolutions

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When I initially started this Blog in March 2012, I had made a decision to pursue my dream of becoming a professional journalist and photographer. I was determined that my move to Margate, a fresh start in and of itself, would be the push in the right direction that I needed. A new place, new people and plenty to write about and photograph.

Whilst those first few months were relatively productive, I found that my personal life was holding me back. My suffering poor health and having family and friends in turmoil, my writing and photography was taken almost to an utter halt, made a secondary priority, essentially, to life. But, the longer I went without posting, the more I realised how much I truly missed it, how much I truly needed it.

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Having thought long and hard about this dilemma, of the “pros and cons” of attempting to balance journalism and photography with a stress-filled personal life and poor health, I have now, ironically in the month of January which is considered worldwide as the beginning of a new year and a fresh start, decided that it is of the utmost importance that I return to my passions, to start anew what I began last year.

So, with the timing of my fresh start falling on the New Year, you would not be mistaken if you considered it to be a form of New Year’s Resolution, one that aims for me to have a healthy balance between my personal and professional lives, and begins with me spending days of researching facts and figures on the history of this worldwide tradition to inspire me, and my readers, to embrace it..

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New Year is a tradition dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years which originates from dozens of cultures and historical civilisations. It is believed that it was Julius Caesar of the Roman Empire who first suggested that the year begin on January 1st, in honour of the Roman God Janus, after which the month was named. This was all the way back in 46 BC, but it was not until 1752 AD that the Britons adopted the Gregorian Calendar, with its twelve month cycle ending in December and beginning in January. Prior to this, we actually celebrated our New Year as “Lady Day”, believed to be the day when Mary, Jesus’ mother, was informed of her son’s coming birth, on March 25th.

The tradition of New Year’s Resolutions can also be traced back just as far, if not further, although what was considered the start of each year was different. The ancient Babylonians and the Romans began their calendar year by making promises to their Gods, and the Knights of the Mediaeval era took “The Peacock Vow” at the end of Christmas each year to re-affirm their commitment to their code of chivalry, to name but a few examples. It is unknown as to when or how the modern, international tradition of New Year’s Resolutions came to happen, however.

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Interestingly enough, New Year’s Day is quite possibly the only global Public Holiday, even though many countries have their own unique calendars for their national faith or heritage. This fact literally brings the world together, breaking down all boundaries of skin colour, sex, country of residence, religion, or culture, and that is a truly beautiful thing.

So, why is it that the majority of people fail to succeed in the goal that they set upon themselves? In recent surveys it has been discovered that eighty-eight percent of UK residents that were questioned had failed in their prior year’s goal. Surveyed Americans fared even worse. With these negative statistics, many people would not be blamed for taking a “why bother?” stance on the concept. I, however, prefer to have a “glass half full” perspective.

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These same studies show that, though many failed, there were very valid reasons as to why. They set themselves unrealistic, almost unachievable goals, or far too broad ones. “Lose weight”, “get fit”, “get a job”, these are all achievable, but more difficult to reach because of the lack of specifics or their long term nature. One is far more likely to succeed in one’s goal by setting smaller, more realistic tasks, or step-by-step lifestyle changes to achieve it, such as losing a certain amount of weight each month, or changing ones diet. This should, in theory, create a regular, positive feeling of achievement in the person, compared to the dragging negativity that results from many months of supposed failure.

Further examination of studies into New Year’s Resolutions shows us that there are also distinct differences between how each sex succeeds in their tasks. Men are more successful when they broke down their resolution into smaller, more achievable goals, whereas women found more success when they made their goals public and drew on the support of friends and family.

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I have decided, for my New Year’s Resolution to succeed, it needs to combine everything that I have learned. My resolution must be clear and concise, broken down over the year into smaller, more achievable goals, and shared with my friends and family so that I can gander support and advice throughout my efforts.

So, my overall resolution for the year, though originally something such as “pursue journalism professionally” or “Blog more”, has moulded itself into “earn money from my journalism and photography”, through smaller weekly or monthly goals such as “reach 200 Likes on my FaceBook Page” and “send Portfolio to magazines to consider for publication”, the progress for which I will be sharing through social networking.

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The facts and theories are sound. Whether, however, they work in practice, remains to be seen. Perhaps, this time next year, I shall be writing a follow-up article of my personal experiences and conclusions on the topic. Only time shall tell…

In the meanwhile, I leave you all with my findings, and hopefully, the inspiration to take them in your own stride and embrace this new perspective on a very old tradition. Will you, as I have, set yourself a New Year’s Resolution this year, and try to see it through? Comment and discuss…

Further Reading
The Mental Health Foundation’s guide to New Year’s Resolutions
Wiki-How’s guide to succeeding in New Year’s Resolutions
US New Year’s Resolutions statistics, updated in December of 2012
An interesting article on the history of New Year’s Resolutions
The History Channel’s history of New Year’s Resolutions

Feedback
It is important that I receive feedback from my readers. I would truly appreciate any feedback at all that you can provide me. Posting comments of encouragement, or constructively critiquing my efforts. I really want to further myself as a writer and with your help I can.

Thank you.