I am happy to say that my conference went extremely well. I went in so anxious and afraid and dreading it all, but it ended up being a great experience. I remembered why I enjoyed this conference in previous years, and why I keep coming back to it. The conference (and I suppose it won’t hurt my anonymity to say which conference it is) was the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, which specializes in the academic study of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. It is simply one of the most inviting, collegial, friendly, and supportive conferences I have ever been to. Everyone is so smart and so friendly. The panels are great, and the social events are even better.
I was very nervous about my role as student representative to the Executive Board. It ended up being a LOT of work, but it was rewarding work, and all the things I feared could go wrong, didn’t happen. The Executive Board meeting was interesting and educational. The panels I was in charge of went smoothly. My paper presentation went ok – I was very afraid I was going to sound like an idiot as it was NOT the best paper I had ever written, but it went fine and the audience had some interesting comments and suggestions for my work.
I particularly enjoyed the two formal luncheons on Thursday and Friday, and the Awards Banquet on Saturday night. On Thursday I sat with the Executive Board and the Division Heads and they were very kind about talking to me and making me feel included in the conversation even though I was the new person and everyone else had known each other for years.
On Friday I was able to sit with my friend and a person I had met earlier in the week. And the three of us were lucky enough to find seats with two published authors: Peter Straub, who is a well-known horror writer, and Joe Haldeman, a well-known Science Fiction writer who is most famous for his novel The Forever War. They told stories about their experiences and they were absolutely fascinating! Also seated at our table was one of the Executive Board members who knows absolutely EVERYBODY. And the most amazing thing happened. During the luncheon I saw one of my favorite authors of all time, Stephen R. Donaldson, walk by, and I pointed him out to my friend excitedly. The Executive Board member, Gary Wolfe, laughed and asked if I wanted to be introduced. I said yes, and he went and fetched Stephen R. Donaldson and introduced me to him! And Donaldson stayed and talked to me for about 10 minutes. I couldn’t stop grinning and I had to work very hard not to completely fall apart in front of him. But it was the most amazing thing ever!
During the Saturday Awards Banquet I could not sit with my friend, but I once again was extremely lucky with who I ended up sitting with. I sat with a group of Children/YA Literature scholars who were absolutely hilarious and friendly. They joked and told stories and we got into a debate about the live-action adaptations of Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, and we laughed so hard that the other tables kept staring at us. I had an amazing evening sitting with them. I just feel so lucky and grateful for their company.
I flew home Sunday afternoon and I dreaded returning to work on Monday. But I am so happy I went to the conference and had a marvelous time.