I spent Friday and Saturday of the past weekend at ArmadilloCon, a science fiction/fantasy writer's convention held in Austin. I'd never been to a writer's conference or convention before, and this was a fun first experience. I was a little reluctant to attend at first, as I don't actually write sci-fi or fantasy (though I LOVE good science fiction and have an entire bookshelf devoted to Ray Bradbury), but a few of my (both writer and non-writer) friends were going, and another friend of mine was actually a panelist, so I figured it would at least be a chance to hang out with people and support my friends.
Though attending a conference outside of my writing genre, I actually found plenty of useful panels. Every writer can benefit from attending sessions on working with small presses or doing research. There was even a panel on writing outside your genre! But I think I benefited most from attending panels that seemed to have little relevance to my own career. On Friday night, I attended the panel on alternate histories - something that doesn't seem at all useful to what I do. But it was an engaging and fun session, I took tons of notes, and by Saturday morning, I had developed the seed of an idea that I'll be writing during National Novel Writing Month this year. It's too new for me to want to talk about it yet, but it will be an alternate history, and though I'm kind of scared to embark on this new adventure, I'm excited, too. I stayed up late Saturday night compiling a reading list for research, and I've gotten started on it already.
And of course, I spent way too much money in the dealer room. Between buying books and winning a piece in the art auction, I blew my budget a bit. The art piece was actually not that expensive, but when you're buying a large quantity of otherwise-inexpensive things, that adds up. At least the auction was for charity - that ameliorates some of the guilt.