It is time. Last week, we heard from Stephen Zimmer, in his interview, on the inspiration as well as some in-and-outs for Imaginarium coming up in September. This week, we hear from Susan H. Roddey, the mover and shaker behind the scenes in today’s guest post. It is time to pull back the curtain and peek at what lies behind…
Pay no attention to that girl behind the curtain…
Whoever said being a creative person is easy was nuts. Seriously. Cray-zee. Off his rocker. The honest, ugly truth is that being creative is extremely difficult. Sometimes it even sucks. You see, we spend entirely too much time in our own heads, tumbling through the labyrinthine halls of our imaginations, becoming burdened down with those annoying little creative clingers – ideas that eventually turn into books, movies, artwork, and music. We are at the mercy of our brains.
That tidbit will be relevant in a minute. I promise. But first, a story.
So last year, Stephen Zimmer and I were in a bar in Louisville along with a dozen or so other people. And we were drinking. I know, I know. Most stories that start with “We were drinking whiskey and…” never end well. Don’t worry, nobody lost their clothes and nobody ended up falling into the Ohio River. What did happen was a spark; a simple idea.
I’m speaking of the night Imaginarium was born. Stephen announced that he wanted to start his own event – an idea I’d been tossing around for months on my own but didn’t have the resources. Everything he said was exactly what I’d been thinking. We needed an event for the artists. We needed a place where people of our ilk, hard-working artists from all walks of life, could be the focus. We wanted to foster friendship and fellowship among the creatives, to build a strong network of people who… well, who get it.
The more we talked, the more excited we became. Now here we are a year later. We’ve chased this crazy dream down the rabbit hole, and it’s more wonderful in reality than we ever thought possible.
“…Stephen is the driving force behind Imaginarium.”
I do need to pause here and tell you that Stephen is the driving force behind Imaginarium. He probably won’t take as much credit for it as he should, but this is his dream. He wanted to make this real, and he’s done it in the most amazing of ways. I’m just the mouthpiece he enlisted to help keep it functioning. I’ve spent half my life in administration and events planning, so it was a natural fit to step in and help with the organization and paperwork.
Sometimes people don’t realize how much work goes into a show of this size. It isn’t easy, but even having taken a few lumps in the process, I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
Busy is an understatement. Stephen and I hit the ground running each morning (him more so than me since I tend to stumble along in his wake). We have lists and spreadsheets and grids. There’s also a Facebook chat thread that’s teetering somewhere at the 50,000 messages mark. We chat. We email. We text. We call each other at ungodly hours of the day and night. We’ve done pretty much everything but send up smoke signals.
We’ve also sought out the best in the business and drawn them in to help coordinate various events across the weekend. We’ve networked and schmoozed and emailed until our eyes have crossed. Most mornings Stephen comes online to find random diatribes waiting in his inbox where I’ve gone off in stream of consciousness mode listing off all the things that kept me up the previous night. He gets to see my rants and ravings and the general silliness that comes with being overworked and underpaid (that would be the day job), being a struggling author, and keeping my head on my shoulders while making sure we’ve covered all of our bases. Then he laughs at me, tells me to behave, and go back to work.
“The energy is amazing already. I can’t wait to see it explode when everyone comes together.”
It’s not just about contacting panelists and asking for their favorite topics. That’s the easy part. Right now we’re working on promoting this monster of an event and the guests involved, but I’m also wrangling volunteers while Stephen works with the Crowne Plaza to finalize room details. We’re securing A/V equipment, planning for security, creating t-shirts, printing up badges, building a program, organizing workshops, and still working hard to keep the friendship and camaraderie going among the guests.
Because I’ll tell you, the key to a good event is happy guests. If our panelists are excited, others will want to be excited too. Happiness is infectious, and it’s what keeps us going day after day despite the looming stress of Making Things Work. The energy is amazing already. I can’t wait to see it explode when everyone comes together.
In the last year, we’ve met some of the most wonderful people. It’s part of why I was so eager to jump in and help when Stephen first uttered the word “Imaginarium.” I like to get to know other authors and artists, to see how they work and what makes them tick. I like hearing their stories and seeing how their creativity comes out in their work. (And we won’t discuss the squealing fangirl moment in a message to Stephen when I discovered Jeffrey Reddick is now following me on Twitter, because that would be embarrassing.) My goal over the last month has been to build relationships with our guest and make certain they know we’re always available if they need us.
“Quite simply, Susan is involved with me in all areas of the event. Susan and I complement each other extremely well in our styles. Like me, she also brings to the table an understanding that encompasses both sides of the equation, the artist perspective and the organizational aspects. This balanced outlook, coupled with her keen intelligence, spreadsheet wizardry, and easy to work with personality make for a pleasant and productive environment. She definitely brightens any world that she is involved in, which is why I call her Sunshine Susan. I am deeply appreciative and honored by her involvement with Imaginarium. We are very lucky to have her with us….Stephen Zimmer’s thoughts on Susan H. Roddey
Which brings me back to my first statement about creativity. Yes, Stephen and I are shuffling paperwork and wracking our brains for the perfect balance to the schedule, but we’re doing it for the best causes. We’re doing it for the guests, for the fans, for the indie community, and for the industry. But above all else, we do it for the love of the craft. We’re writers, you see, and in this day and age of flooded markets and stiff competition, we creative types have to stick together.
In the Imaginarium, we welcome everyone with open arms and hope that by doing our part to provide a safe haven and comfortable atmosphere, we can help solidify the artistic community and keep creativity alive.
About S.H. Roddey
South Carolina native S.H. Roddey has been writing for fun since she was a child and still enjoys building worlds across the speculative fiction spectrum filled with mystery and intrigue. She brings to the literary world a unique blend of humor, emotion, and wild ideas filled with dark themes and strong characters. In addition to writing she is also a voracious reader, wanna-be chef, and video game addict with two full-time jobs: administrative social media professional, and mom to two cats, a teenager, and a precocious toddler with an affinity for computer keyboards.
For more information on Susan, her imagination, and the things she writes: www.shroddey.com
Imaginarium 2014 is a three-day creative writing convention and book fair suitable for attendees of all ages! With over 140 panels spread across twelve programming tracks, after-hours events, and a full vendor hall, it’s the place where ideas transcend imagination, where authors and readers can come together, and where new writers can learn tricks of the trade from more than 130 of today’s best independent publishing professionals. In addition to the literary programming, Imaginarium also features world-class workshops, an art show, film festival, gaming room, and more.