I may have just experienced one of the most amazing weekends of my life. It definitely goes in the top 10. More to the point, it can be summed up in a word: Balticon.
Before last year, I had no idea so much awesome existed on this planet, let alone that I’d find myself sitting on panels there and espousing various bits of knowledge (some more helpful than others). That fact alone blows my mind. Me! On a panel! And people actually showed up to listen! *faint*
So yeah, that was quite the experience. But the best part about the whole weekend was getting to meet people that, up until May 28, were only screennames on Twitter, or mythical author figures whom I assumed must exist, but could no sooner contemplate their awesome than I could the entirety of the universe. Was I nervous stepping off the plane and into their midst? Hell yes I was.
My biggest “OMGSQUEE!” moment was meeting people whose work I admired but never had direct contact with, and finding out that THEY KNEW WHO I WAS. Me? Really? I also had random people I’d never heard of come up to me and tell me how big a fan of mine they were. Yes, I did look behind me to see who they were talking about. Again, “OMGSQUEE!”.
I met a ton of TDT cast members, and each was just as fantastic as I thought. Some names you might recognize: Tee Morris, Philippa Ballantine, Mur Lafferty, Paul Elard Cooley, Michael Bekemeyer, Michele Bekemeyer, Dave Sobkowiak, Christiana Ellis, Kate Sherrod, and Nobilis Reed. I’m almost afraid to try and list all the non-cast members I met, because if I forget anyone I’ll feel like an idiot. That, and I’m incredibly awful with names as it is and I’m bound to blank on many of them.
As I mentioned before, this was the first time I’ve ever spoken on panels at a convention. To be completely honest, I’d never even GONE to a panel before. Convention, yes. Panel, no. Was always way too occupied with dealer rooms and such to bother. I felt woefully unprepared for what I was in for. Fortunately, I had excellent guidance from Nathan Lowell and Tee Morris and they got me through it relatively unharmed.
I am compelled to talk about another experience I had this weekend. I had the great pleasure of sitting in on a reading by James Durham (of the FETIDUS podcast). Before that, I never really knew what kind of writer I wanted to be. Now I do. I want to be the kind of writer that inspires others to create the way I was inspired at that reading. If you saw me last weekend, you’re probably sick of hearing me gush about James Durham, but I had to put it out there one last time. Truly incredible. I came away with the burning desire to get back to writing; to harness the magic of that moment and turn it into something special. Not only is the man inspiring, but he’s very interesting to talk to as well. Reminds me, we never did finish that conversation…
There was much hilarity over the course of the convention. A few stories will remain in Baltimore, as sometimes you just have to keep the best ones to yourself (and the subject of the story might not appreciate their less-than-shining moments retold). There were great moments of personal connection, new friendships sparked, and discoveries that made some of us go “WHAT THE WHAT?”. For instance, did you know that J. Daniel Sawyer sings? Uh, yeah. Like an angel. WTF? Who knew?
There isn’t room enough in this post for all the amazing things I learned, people I met, and great times I had at Balticon. It really was a life-changing experience and I hope I’ll get to return again next year, maybe to plug a new project! But for now, onwards and upwards. Let’s get to work! :)
P.S. – If you’d like to see some of the photos from the weekend, there’s a flickr pool you can check out!