It’s crazy to think the world has spun an entire revolution around the sun, and then some, since UK Meet 2018.
Before we know it, September will be back again and hundreds of us will be descending on the Grand Harbour in Southampton for a glorious weekend of all things GLBTQ fiction.
Last year, committee member Jack Ladd was a total newbie. He didn’t know what to expect, had only spoken to a handful of people via email and, as he pulled up to the hotel solo, anxiety began to swell.
It didn’t last. Ladd says the weekend flew by in a haze of laughter, learning and entertainment, not to mention invaluable insight, expert advice and hugs galore from new friends young and old.
So, to ensure you have as much fun as he did, we’ve put together a little list of hints and tips so you too can make the most of your first Meet.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Friends
Clare London used to go to anime/cosplay conventions, and it was 4 YEARS before she plucked up enough courage to ask one dear friend what her REAL name was. She’d been calling her by her pen name, Badmomma, all that time (they had a good laugh about it at the time and since).
The fact that you’re at the Meet is the first, biggest, and best step, and, don’t forget, EVERYONE is nervous of meeting new people, however confident they may appear. We’re all on the same page, so be encouraged to smile and offer your name, and you may make some true friends from the occasion.
Charlie says join the delegates FB group (but please don’t request to join until we’ve confirmed your ticket) or volunteer for the registration desk or bag filling. These are all fantastic ways to break the ice and get to know your fellow delegates. And, Jack adds, if you’re passionate about a particular topic, consider putting yourself down for panels.
This might be daunting at first, but it’s a great way to meet your fellow speakers (over a cheeky drink pre or during the event, perhaps?) not to mention the bond you’ll share after speaking in front of a whole room of inquisitive minds.
Public speaking not for you? Instead of speaking in a panel, be sure to catch one. That way you’ll find yourself in a room of like-minded people with plenty to talk about over the weekend.
If you can, definitely opt for the Saturday night Rainbow Dinner and Friday social event, and try to arrive early enough on the Friday so you can register, grab a drink and mingle. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to make new friends, see the local sights and, the next night, don your glad rags for a fabulous evening of entertainment, delicious food and dancing.
One important, often overlooked aspect is ensuring you take a break if needed. Don’t feel like you must to be on your A-game 24/7.
There’s nothing wrong with bowing out for an hour or two to enjoy the facilities, explore Southampton alone, or simply have a much-deserved nap. We all need a little me-time now and then, and where better than a lovely hotel?
And most importantly, be yourself.
The UK Meet is all about celebrating GLBTQ fiction and everyone who reads, writes, lives and loves it. Diversity, respect, tolerance and kindness are the Meet’s foundations and we pride ourselves in creating a safe-space for anyone who wants to join the family.