My relationship with the convention has changed a lot over the years. My first (unofficial) time, a friend and I went downtown and snooped around on a Sunday afternoon while everyone was packing up and closing down. I think it was one of the early cons, Orycon V or maybe '84. A Dr. Who mini-fest was playing in one of the rooms. My friend said we couldn't go in there without a badge. I picked up a free Buckaroo Banzai headband. I still have it. I'm not sure if those were being handed out to promote the 1984 movie, or if they were leftovers after it had already come out. You'd think I'd be able to date it. Nope. That was in the 80's, and that was a looooong time ago.
Years later, I got an official membership and tried out the writer's workshop. Back then the convention had a lot more editors showing up. Different time, different economy. I got a lot of encouragement from two people I respect to this day: Dean Wesley Smith and Gardner Dozois. I ended up being invited to a small writer's group. I had no idea what wonderful relationships would grow from that group. I don't see Mary Rosenblum and Mike Moscoe (aka Mike Shepherd) as much as I like. Orycon is the one place I can depend on seeing them for at least a few minutes.
As I began to show up more regularly, I made some convention friends I looked forward to seeing each year, and I put up art in the art show. I even made some sales there.
Later still I became involved in helping out. It started so innocently, organizing the Child Care room. I graduated to the writer's workshop. C.S. Cole took over for me and now runs an amazing ship. I briefly became involved in Programming, then faded away as my work load at home and the day job ate up what little time I had to devote to it. I still help when I can, but sadly, not as much as I'd like to.
Which brings me to this year. I'm a panelist. I have some e-books out. I have a teeny, tiny micro-publishing company. I've published a couple of short stories, with one still in the pipeline for a really great magazine. I can't wait to announce that when it happens. I have to decide soon whether I should try to put up something in the art show again, and whether I should print up promotional materials. It's not as clear-cut as you might think. I used to try to make professional connections and break in with my writing. Now the whole writing world has changed, and I have all these great friends ... mainly I want to just hang out and listen and learn and give hugs to long-found friends. Promoting my cover art and writing doesn't seem natural after spending so many years as a member of a community.
But there are always the new kids, and some of my buddies might want to have a look at what I've been up to lately, I guess.
It'll be interesting and fun, as it always is.