Friday, July 19, 2019

Narrativity: the convention I needed

I loved Narrativity for many reasons, but I've resisted writing this because one reason makes me sad.

I'll start as we tell people to critique writers in workshops and focus on the good:

Perhaps the best was a happy accident. When Emma came up with the name, we were just trying to find something that seemed descriptive and hadn't been overused, but the name encouraged something none of us had anticipated, a strong focus on story rather than writing. The name let us talk about writing, of course, but it reminded us there are many kinds of storytelling.

It was egalitarian, or at least as egalitarian as it's possible to be at an event like this. Joe Heaney noted that in Oh THIS is what a con can be: Narrativity Report: Part 1:
...that warm, welcoming feeling was perhaps the strongest feature of Narrativity. There was no ego, no stratification, no ranks expressed in the three days spent at the Crown Plaza. We were simply storytellers all, sharing our experiences and trusting that the experience of others passionate about our common art form would aid us in our own growth.
It was small, about 70 people. There are natural sizes for groups, which I first learned when I was involved with the Unitarian Universalists, and different sized groups function differently. Narrativity was the size of a village or a family gathering, which is the size of my ideal convention. You don't necessarily get to meet everyone, but it's easy to meet people, and you quickly develop a sense of community.

The panels were very good. I don't think there were any that I would recommend against. The last panel was a local tradition, the Different Panel, which consists of proposals by con members that the group votes on. An additional benefit of the Different Panel is the proposals that don't win make a fine place for next year's programming committee to start.

The selection of food and drinks in the con suite was especially good for a small convention.

The music circles were fun in what I think of as the Minneapolis music tradition—almost no fannish songs, but a good bit of folk and traditional music, including sea shanties, and show tunes and originals.

Hmm. So what wasn't good? Well, the hotel's restaurants were a bit pricey and generic, but there were a lot of good restaurants within a mile of the convention. The hotel was otherwise great—I'm hoping it'll be the site for next year's Narrativity.

And now for the small sadness. Narrativity reminded me enormously of Fourth Street Fantasy thirty years ago, before it grew and was gentrified. I suppose that's inevitable with successful conventions, but I hope Narrativity will learn from the mistakes of success and stay a place where people with different concerns gather as equals and freely discuss anything having to do with story. One thing I know: I'll encourage every writer I know and love to be at the next one.

ETA: Narrativity – a review – Dear Alien Anthropologists