It was early June when I travelled to New Jersey to visit my boon companion, a young lady whom I call Kitten. The eponymous reason for going was the Philadelphia Writer's Conference, but, fascinating experience though that was, a conference alone is not reason enough to fly the rough distance of 1000 kilometres that separates northern Alberta, Canada from the American east coast.
Meeting Kitten face to face was a deciding factor, the conference was an added treat.
The writing conference itself made up the bulk of my first three days in the United States. This was the first conference I had ever attended, and I found the event highly interesting and invigorating. I particularly enjoyed the class on writing for New Media.
The high emphasis on the business, marketing end of writing was occasionally overwhelming and discouraging, if only because it seemed, at times, to be at the loss of the artistic side of things, that speakers and participants only gave the art brief lip-service before turning back to business. This was not the case in all classes, of course, and looking objectively, the speakers most certainly talked about the art of writing. It is simply that the emphasis was placed more towards marketing than would be to my liking and the advice on the art of things was somewhat underdeveloped and aimed at a more novice level. It is highly likely that, this being my first convention, my initial expectations were flawed.
Undoubtedly one of the best aspects of the convention was being surrounded on all sides by like-minded individuals and talking with people who might actually be genuinely interested in that steam-punk epic I'm writing that stars a bird-obsessed autistic and a double amputee. Just being around people who have similar interests and ideas and who have even a glimmer of insight into my life as it is. It's almost like being part of a community. Warm fuzzies for everyone.
All in all, I would call the conference an enriching experience, one that was all the better for having dear Kitty Bergeron at my side and for meeting personalities like Lucas Mangum, horror writer extraordinaire, Patti O'Brien, who I regret not being able to talk to more, and Marie Gilbert, who is everybody's best friend and grandma, no exceptions, and an unbelievably cool lady.
I also ended up attending a session led by Jonathan Maberry, who writes zombie thrillers. Notable because at one point he described a scene from one of his novels which I had already heard near word-for-word only a few weeks earlier during a chat with my sister (read: during an hour while my sister talked and I nodded and made appropriate noises) about a book she was reading about the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. I rather wanted to discuss a few of the plot points with him, particularly the idea of bounty hunters who are paid to put zombified people to rest by the families of the deceased, but I wasn't sure whether to approach him or not. I erred on the side of caution, if only because I wasn't sure how to explain that I knew the plots of his novels, not because I read them, but because my little sister likes to tell me the best bits and some things need a lot of context in order to be funny.
I also met Merry Jones, who is very sweet, and a few other people whose books I put away for a living.
All in all, a good way to spend a weekend.