I survived my first World Fantasy Convention. I say first because after attending one, you will want to attend ALL future WFCs.
I've been to other conferences like RWA, SCBWI, and Pikes Peak (loved all of them) but WFC was um, er...different.
WFC had lots of great panels, but they were offered as an alternative place to go if/when the hotel bar or parties were lacking in conversation and/or people to meet and drink with. The problem: social opportunities were never lacking. Not even at 5am. (5am as in the end of the night, not the beginning of the day.)
You might be thinking, no way could I stay up that late.
I assure you, you can and you would.
Because you'd hate to miss famous authors throwing down drinks and chatting with you like you're an equal instead of a wannabe. You'd stay up because Tor and Del Ray were hosting parties, and you had a legitimate invite (aka no-crashing-necessary) to both. When 2am rolled around and your body begged you to sleep, you'd tell it to shut up and order another vodka & Redbull (or in my case a White Russian, but I was the minority) because it would be rude to turn down the editor and/or agent who invited you to the book release party.
In the morning ? (days kinda blur together) after 3 or 4 hours of sleep, you'd get coffee and drag yourself to a panel or two, or maybe an author reading because, after all, you paid to attend these things. You really should TRY to learn something.
Then, a friend peer pressures you into "checking out what's going on at the bar."
Your inner voice chides, No, be responsible and attend another panel.
But you're severely dehydrated so your lips and tongue are too dry to form actual words, so instead, you nod. And, as if on autopilot, your feet carry you to the bar where that really funny guy (you can't remember if he's of literary importance
but you did officially become friends yesterday) walks up and hands you a White Russian.
At this point you can't decline because let's face it, the drink contains milk and everyone knows milk does a body good; and then, of course, there's that hair of the dog that bit ya
wisdom, so you take a sip. Within minutes your mouth is moist enough to make conversation again and someone is handing you a second drink because yours is magically empty.
You almost say, no thanks, I should go back to the panels and learn something,
but then three more people from yesterday (who you're almost certain are of literary importance
but you can't confirm it because WFC name badges only state names and not titles) join you and start chatting about nothing book or writing related but you're all cracking up and "bonding" and you think, screw the panels.
(You mean it in the nicest way.) The liquid courage has provided you the much-needed belief that you CAN indeed carry on a conversation with all these people of literary importance.
Before you realize what's happening there are more introductions, invites, elevator rides, parties, toothpicks holding your eyelids open, friends handing you drinks, cameras flashing in your face, and lots of laughing. You're pretty sure all the panels have ended but you can't be positive because you lost track of time, until someone suggests going clubbing and everyone is all for it until someone else points out that it's 1am in Columbus, Ohio and we'd have better luck finding periwinkle unicorns and sparkling butterflies in a Neil Gaiman novel.
Clubbing idea gets redacted, people continue mingling, and you keep meaning to say goodnight and go to bed but you're distracted by meeting more cool people until finally, someone asks, "Should we order pizza from that delivery joint? It's the only place open at 4am."
Crap. You did it again. Panels and author readings start in like 5 hours but you're rattling around the ice in your empty White Russian glass and thinking how horribly good pizza would taste, so you say yes, knowing the meal puts you at a 5am bedtime minimum.
Hours (not many) later--as much as you don't want to--you force yourself out of bed and go to the Urban Fantasy panel because since day 1 you've said you were going to attend it, and by gods, you will. But halfway through it the conversation turns to...wait for it...vampires. You moan into your coffee while catching eyes with Holly Black. You telepathically ask her why all UF panels end up being about vampires, and she grabs the mic and says, "I've been told all panels end up being about vampires and now I see it's true."
And you think, Cool. Me and Holly just had a telepathic connection
. Which is impressive, but you still wish you would've stayed in bed because the conversation in the room now sounds like the adults in Charlie Brown. "Wah-wha-whu-whuh-whu-whah-vampires-whah-whu-wha-whu-wu."
Then--and maybe it's because you're in an Urban Fantasy panel--your bionic senses kick in and you hear (out the ballroom, down the hall, across the lobby, and into the bar) a bartender drop ice into a glass followed by the gug-gug-gug of a creamy White Russian being poured. You can't ignore your newly obtained superpowers (because you've read novels where the MC tries to deny an ability and it never bodes well) so you return to home base where, of course, sit a bunch of familiar faces raising their glasses and beginning the long road to 5am.
You join them, cheers to screwing the panels (meaning it in the nicest way), and enjoy your final hours with all your new-found friends of literary importance. You realize the most important thing you learned all weekend is that everyone at WFC--no matter where they are on their writing/publishing/editing/agenting journey--is important.
And you can't wait to see them again next year.
See, I told you you would do it.
5am will be here before you know it. Hope to see you there.