I just got back (well, on Monday, but you get the idea) from the World Fantasy Convention, my second in three years and first since Montreal. I was curious about my experience from 2008, actually, and took a look back to find out what I thought then--and found things have changed quite a bit for me since then, as these highlights might indicate:
1. Getting in to the convention late Friday night was less than optimal, as it meant I missed a bunch of things, including readings by fellow Writers' Symposium members and friends Paul Genesse, Kelly Swails and Brad Beaulieu. I did get to hang out with all of these people anyway, especially Kelly and Brad, but still...I would have liked to be at the readings to support them, though apparently they didn't need it (pretty good turnout for everyone involved). But in a way this points to the biggest difference between the 2010 and 2008 versions of me relative to WFC--I actually know people in the industry now, a lot of them, and not just from pictures! There was one point where it took me five minutes to get from one panel room to another because I had to keep stopping to talk to people I knew, which was, honestly, great. It's not quite as close-knit as the Symposium crowd, but still pretty solid. (Part of this might also be because of the central location--a lot of people live within a reasonable distance from Ohio, so it's not bad travel-wise.) And I met some more people there whom I hadn't known well or at all before, including Matt Forbeck, Kij Johnson, Delia Sherman and many others, at panels, parties, and other such assorted festivities.
2. The panels were great, from interesting "state of the field" ones on epic fantasy and sword and sorcery (the fact those were back to back and in opposing rooms struck more than one of us as an interesting meta-commentary on the field) to more philosophical ones on the role of the author in his/her fiction and the ideas/personal beliefs he/she brings to the table. There was a surprising lack of cliché in these latter two panels, actually, which was refreshing to see (along with some of the battles between and among panelists, though most of them were pretty mild). And of course there was the panel I was on, "What is Left to the Imagination," with Lawrence Connolly (also a Symposium member), Madeleine Robins, Delia Sherman and Martha Wells--we had a great turnout and a really enjoyable discussion, and I was impressed by the number of people still actively engaged on a Sunday morning (if you'd been at some of the parties the night before, you'd know what I meant!).
I didn't have a chance to stay for the WFC awards banquet (had to get home at some point!), or to say hello to / meet everyone I would have liked, but on the whole this was a ton of fun...and proved that knowing people makes things a lot more enjoyable. Since I already have four set conferences a year, roughly speaking, I try not to add more than one or two to the list, and I'm already going to be at Worldcon in Reno next year...but next year's WFC is in San Diego, and that's pretty tempting...hmm.
Well, I've got a whole year to figure it out, right? In the meantime, I'll bask in the glow of a convention with no regrets, in between playing catch-up with E-mails I didn't have time to answer while I was on the road. But while I'm doing all that, you can check out an audio record of the event over on my Media page, where I've just added an audio clip of my Sunday panel--check it out and let me know what you think!
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