I don’t know about you, but after the past couple years of working from home in my pajamas, it sometimes feels like I’ll never again be comfortable in a public environment.
Today, though, I realized I can learn to relax and enjoy these spaces—actually, it’s taking far less time than I imagined to brush off my rusty social skills. For that very reason, today was probably my favorite day so far. I’ve relearned how to strike up conversations with random people, and also how to balance spontaneity with my other goals. When I don’t get accepted into a workshop, for example, or can’t find the room to a certain panel, I just look nearby for something else that sounds interesting. I’ve happened upon several excellent sessions that way.
This morning I spontaneously joined a tour of the neighborhood surrounding the hotel, and picked up some interesting tidbits about Chicago history while getting to know other group members. I also made connections with J.T. Greathouse, a debut author who’s a finalist for the BFSA award this year, and several of my fellow aspiring writers. The day finished up in the bar, where I had a wonderful chat with Heath Miller, a well-known audiobook narrator and genuinely charming man. He happens to be married to Catherynne M. Valente, author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (a book that I love), and who is up for a Hugo award tomorrow night.
As far as sessions go, I particularly appreciated a panel on the difference between colorblindness and color inclusion. Steven Barnes was one of the panelists—a truly charismatic person. The other panelists were also highly knowledgeable and passionate.
As I’ve said a few times, this was my first in-person foray to convention-land, but I’m really growing to appreciate both the diversity of backgrounds within the fandom and the passion for storytelling that unites all of us.
Now it is time for sleep!