This weekend I've been seriously lamenting the fact that I was not in Toronto at the 2012 World Fantasy Convention. Last year I went to WFC in San Diego, and it was amazing. Life changing even. For a few different reasons, which I'll share.
It was the first time I've done something really crazy like fly across the country (I'm in Florida, so literally coast to coast) all by myself to go to an event I'd never attended before with people I'd never met. Not a single soul. Luckily, fellow blogger Liz Briggs told me her and her husband were going, and we made plans to meet up. But they weren't driving in until the first day of the con, which meant I had a whole evening and morning to try and make friends. Kind of terrifying since I'm not the bravest of people in situations like this. But I did meet people, and they were great, and it was awesome, and I survived, and I grew as a person. My wanderlust increased exponentially, and I wanted to go on more adventures to meet more awesome writer people.
The second thing that changed me was Neil Gaiman. Cliche, sure. True, yes. I've told this tale before, but when I went to WFC last year, I had just started reading Neil's stuff, so I felt like a very inadequate and undeserving fan. But I gawked and swooned at his awesomeness nonetheless. In my defense, it really can't be helped. And during one of his many talks over the weekend, he said something along the lines of "I love WFC because when I'm here, I'm with my people. You are my people." And I realized, YES! I'm with my fellow fantasy writers at the premier fantasy literary con in the world. And I want to do this forever. And I want to do other cons. And I want to try to be even a fraction as rad and badass as Neil, traveling the world and doing cool writerly stuff. I've always known I wanted to be a writer, and that I would write until I am old and can't write anymore. But I'd never really been immersed in the vision of how exactly that could unfold, and all the awesome adventures I could have. Neil showed me that.
The third thing was my novel Everdream. The inspiration for it hit a week or so after I got back home from WFC, while I was still swimming in the inspiration high of meeting so many amazing writers, both published and aspiring. I wanted a brilliant idea, something very different from anything anyone had written. And walking out to feed my horses one night, under a bright splash of stars, it hit me hard. And my writerly brain started cranking out the details, and the plot and the characters, and a few months later it was written. Being with other writers feeds our souls, and helps us stretch to new levels. I know I have WFC to thank for that novel.
So, while I'm uber jealous of everyone that got to go to WFC 2012, I'm super grateful for what I learned last year. I'll be hopping around to hear about all the amazing panels and readings and meetings and awesomeness. And since I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna make it to WFC 2013 in Brighton, England (unless I win the lottery), I'll probably have to aim for WFC 2014 in Washington, D.C. I should be able to swing that.
What are your fave cons? Any world changing experiences you'd like to share? I hope everybody has an amazing week!