Now for my recap post on Ch1Con 2015! As y'all should know, I went this past weekend to Chicago to attend this spectacular event for the second time, my adventures with the first being detailed here (I also spoke at the more private session in 2012, via the magic of the Internet). This time, I went by plane leaving Friday, which was really cool. I didn't get to see as much of the complex and unexpected geography outside, but there's something to be said for the bird's eye view. I looked out as much as I could without getting blinded by all the clouds. And of course, it was a much shorter trip.
I had a bit of a rough evening getting stuff sorted out, but then I got to spend some time with the rest of the Ch1Con team and our volunteers who were present, including my dearest Julia. I experienced a fair bit of anxiety at first, with me not doing well with strangers or in groups (also not having eaten much of a dinner), but after getting to talk to Julia a bit one-on-one, like last year, I calmed down. We even got the mysterious John Hansen to video chat with us! It was delightful, and I was up far too late because I just treasure the time I get to spend with these friends. How dare they live so far east.
Saturday was the day of, of course, so I got up to get breakfast with the team only to find a number of emergencies cropping up, including a dramatically unfair lack of Panera bagels. But we got it together, set up, and I did the checking people in thing while our glorious group of attendees and speakers arrived.
Then the conference began! After an intro from Julia, Ava Jae, the beautifully petite and intelligent author of Beyond the Red (coming 2016), spoke on issues of the teen writer life as well as just some general publishing things, like money. The summation of her session is an idea I strongly agree with and wrote about in this post.
Following Ava, Karen Bao, the snappily dressed author of Dove Arising, led us through a workshop on worldbuilding. I intend to hold onto the handout for repeated future reference. I always forget about all the important details and ideas that go into the creation of a world! I do try to remember, though, what Patrice Caldwell spoke about in 2014, which is how worldbuilding should always be drawn from your POV character. Readers need to experience the world through the eyes of your character in order to really feel it.
Taryn Albright, the well-organized and sweet Girl with the Green Pen, had a ton of issues with her flight, so we ended up bringing her session in via Google Hangouts, which is like the only time Google has cooperated with us. Her session was on color-coding for organization, which I didn't expect to need because I'm such a pantser, but I actually took a ton of notes on it. It'll be super useful for editing, which, of course, I'm doing right now with COCA.
We had a lunch break after, during which I talked to Karen, Kat Zhang, and Julia, and was stalked by a bee. If you remember my history, you know this was quite unpleasant for me.
After that, though, Ava Jae did her first swag signing, which was super cool, and then I was up to intro Kaye (!!!!!). As expected, her session was extremely powerful. Kaye, if you don't know, besides being a YA writer is a social justice advocate on Twitter who started #YesAllWomen and thus originally got me into the world of social justice. Having the language necessary to address issues of prejudice and diversity has been so empowering for me. During her session, she talked about writing diversely, which pushed our conference more into the territory of not just craft, but meaning. What stuck out to me the most was the idea of incidental diversity, which I will be discussing in my post Saturday.
Following Kaye, we had a speaker panel you can watch here, and then it was time for Kat Zhang, the put-together and lovely author of the Hybrid Chronicles, to give her keynote speech. At this point, I was nearly comatose from exhaustion, because my fibromyalgia refuses to cooperate with anything, but I still really appreciated her extensive look at the publishing process, particularly her examination of book cover creation. Like, book covers are awesome.
We did some giveaways, which I always love, because free books, and then, sadly, I had collapse into bed instead of spending the evening with the team, like I'd planned. I was like a rock, I was so tired. I shouldn't have pushed my fibro by staying up so late, I suppose, seeing as it's been giving me trouble since I came home from school, but I really value the time I got to spend with Julia Friday evening, so. *shrugs* I did get up at like 7 to go eat with my mom at Denny's (I LOVE DENNY'S. I WANT TO EAT THERE ALWAYS, EXCEPT FOR WHEN I'M EATING AT PANERA OR SWEET TOMATOES.) before going back to bed.
Sunday, I got up to go have breakfast and a surprise party for team members Emma and Ariel, at which there were finally Panera bagels. Ch1Con cannot be complete without Panera! Mom and I went to a local church session briefly, during which I accidentally fell asleep again, and then we rejoined the others to go to the Shedd Aquarium. The reason for this necessity is that while I was on Write It!, where I met most of the Ch1Con team as a 12/13 year old, my username was DolphinWriter, because I loved dolphins. I still do, just not as much as cats, because you can cuddle cats, but not dolphins. Anyway, I'd never seen a dolphin before, and Shedd Aquarium has dolphins, so, like, duh.
It was a rough time, that. My fibro was angry, so we requested a wheelchair to help me get around the giant aquarium, but there weren't any available at that moment, and then I encountered something you don't encounter much in New Mexico, or at all in a small town like Los Alamos, which is lines. In my usual necessary calculations for "how much can my body take today", I had not included lines. Because it likes to cause problems, my OCD then kicked in with the purpose of informing me that I, with my disability, am a terrible buzzkill and no one could possibly understand why I was causing so much trouble and I was a burden, etc., etc. So there I was sitting on a bench in the entrance of the aquarium trying not to cry. I got my mom to find me a restroom (a haven for the anxious), where I sat in a stall and talked myself down (also dropped my phone in the toilet for the first time ever, but my phone's fine and it was kind of funny, actually), and then I rejoined the others and made it to their weird version of Starbucks by repeatedly thinking to myself that I was an island of calm. Anyway, once I got food and had some time to just talk to my mom one-on-one, I was much calmer and my fibro also chilled out some.
By that point, we had time for exactly nothing but the dolphins, but I didn't mind, because dolphins was the whole point. Dolphins was the only reason I hadn't gone running out screaming at the beginning. So we went down to the dolphins, past a penguin exhibit I got a brief glance at, and then... dolphins. IT WAS MAGNIFICENT AND AWESOME AND THERE WAS A BABY WITH A MOMMY AND I WAS SO HAPPY AND IT MADE UP FOR ALL THE TRAUMA OF EARLIER!!!
After taking some time to enjoy the dolphins, we then left to go to the airport to go home. I got to talk with my friends about random stuff, and it was lovely, and I hated to leave them. Especially since I don't know when I'll get to see them in person again: I don't expect to attend Ch1Con in person again due to age/money.
So my mom and I flew home, and I appreciated the new adventure of seeing the world through a plane at nighttime, and then we were back in NM. It seemed so small after Chicago, but also very pleasantly airy and full of space. Stuff is spread out in New Mexico, and it is super duper not in Chicago. There's something to be said for all that space. Geography is as incidentally diverse as people, it turns out, so details like stucco houses and casino billboards and that weird dusty brown-green shade every plant is stand out when you compare NM to other places.
But I only managed to stay awake for half an hour in the car before returning to sleep, and thus came the end of my Ch1Con 2015 adventure.
Thanks for reading, guys. Even though I won't be returning, I hope any of you who are of the appropriate age do join the Ch1Con team in Chicago again in summer 2016! And do come back next time for a post further detailing my own recent struggles with writing diversely and how the idea of incidental diversity plays into this.
Images via Ch1Con.
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