I didn't get to as many sessions as I marked. I never do. Things interfere at home, and I arrive later than I want. Happens every con. Or I get panel-exhaustion, and something that had seemed a must-see when I first sat with a highlighter and mapped out my con experience (or wish list) suddenly doesn't seem as enticing as spending time with friends over hot chocolate. Or should I call that networking? It's an essential part of the con experience. And in fact the only three sessions I didn't enjoy as much as others were three back-to-back sessions that were my fourth, fifth and sixth consecutive panels on one day. Sometimes that break is a freshener -- just the way a fast-paced novel needs occasional slower, reflective scenes so the reader can take a breather. In fact, I didn't go to one dud panel. Usually, at the smaller cons where there's not as much choice, I'll find that something I was really looking forward to isn't that great, and something else that I've gone along to without great expectations has been fantastic.
When you've been to lots of panels on writing, read lots of books on writing, attended lots of courses and masterclasses etc the way I have, you often hear the same things over and over, so if I go to a panel and get one really new insight or hear something couched in a way I never have before then I feel I'm doing well. But even if I don't, I'll usually enjoy myself because I love to hear other writers talk about their craft and what inspires them or troubles them or whatever.
And sometimes the really memorable panels aren't the ones on writing but the more atmospheric (in terms of my own novel) panels: some remarkable ones have been on sword fighting and weaponry, blacksmithing, medieval music, cartography and forced marches. Oh, and watching the final episode of "Babylon 5" on a big screen (just before it had been aired in Melbourne) after J Michael Straczynski spoke about it was amazing. This time it has again been mapping and one on writing fight scenes right.
What I missed this year was the night life. Where was that exactly? I didn't get to one room party. There just wasn't the same sense of where things were happening at night -- things were more spread out. I believe some things happened at Crown, though the only one over there I actually got to was the HarperCollins Voyager party, and that was half over when we arrived. I did get to the bar a few times and hung around with my SuperNOVA buddies, and I did get out to dinner with some of them and a couple of HarperCollins writers. Don't know what happened after the Hugos, as I didn't get to attend these, or the masquerade, or the nightmare ball. But, oh well. I had a blast, so I'm not complaining!
And the next thing will be finding out when the next con is -- local con as I don't have the funds for overseas travel, and am envious of my friends who are talking about attending the next World Fantasy con. The trick with cons is to book early because the price rises incrementally as the con date gets nearer and nearer. So, I must off and do some research!