In 2011, I had just moved away from the arid desert climate of Idaho into the most miserable summer heat I had ever, ever experienced of Texas (yes, THAT miserable summer).
I had completed my bachelors degree in English, and had attended a well-known writers workshop the year before, but still felt like I knew next to no one in the writing world, knew less than a handful of short story markets to submit to, and had never even realized until it was too late that there were conventions I could have attended in Utah.
In moving, I had left all of my dance, yoga, and Pilates jobs in Idaho, and knew that my paychecks would be slow to build to anything substantial, as often happens when there’s a gap between leaving successful setups in one location and moving to another.
In the midst of this, I knew that what I needed, even though it HURT to spend the money, was to go to this event that I’d somehow stumbled across online called ArmadilloCon. I was hungry for friends, I was hungry for knowledge, and I knew that my “can-do attitude” had taken me as far as it could on my journey to being a writer.
So I showed up to ArmadilloCon, not even knowing where I was going to sleep because I knew that I couldn’t afford the convention hotel prices.
And then the convention started. An hour or two in during Meet the Pros, I met someone that is now my best friend (and was very gracious about letting me share her hotel room that weekend -thanks again, Megan!)
I met more friends over the weekend, and formed my first writer’s group with some of them.
Between all these new friends and the informative panels, my eyes were opened to DuoTrope, to other Texas conventions, to new short story markets, to writers I needed to be reading, to OTHER wonderful friends, to ideas that had been hitherto alien to me.
I’m sure there are other things I was introduced to that have greatly improved me as a person and as a writer, but can’t remember them now because memories are slippery things.
All in all, it’s safe to say that ArmadilloCon 2011 was hugely influential.
But the best part is that wasn’t a one-off experience. ArmadilloCon is always awesome (although the years where I was juggling a baby or toddler are… perhaps lower on the list, for reasons).
This year was just as rejuvenating as my first, though obviously in different ways. I reconnected with old friends (some of whom are those first friends I made in Texas, thanks again, guys!), I made new friends, shared my Pilates passion with a roomful of fellow fans and writers (thanks again for coming, guys! Go forth with your Couch Potato Pilates knowledge and conquer!), sold a couple books, had a blast in panels and readings, brainstormed novels, and hopefully didn’t say too many stupid things or talk too much.
There are wonderful people at these conventions, y’all. People with beautiful stories to tell, talents and knowledge to share. I feel privileged to have been among them and, hopefully, give someone a much-needed boost in some aspect of their life.
Thanks to all the volunteers for helping out so we could all come and participate in a Weekend of Awesome. You are The Best, and I salute you. To all the people I chatted with, waved at, taught, gave candy to, thanks for being you. I hope you had as good a time as I did.