I've been to another literary conference before, but it wasn't nearly as big as AWP. It was fun, but I felt like if you weren't already part of the club, you weren't going to be part of the club. I still mingled and learned a lot, but I never really felt like I belonged. I never got that sense at AWP.
There are literally thousands of writers that go to this conference. It's easy to get lost in the crowd, but I never felt like I wasn't part of the crowd. It was so easy to talk to people. I was with my friend Tamara, who is really good about talking to everybody and anybody, so we would be engaged in conversations with others as we walked the three blocks to the convention center.
Once there, you could turn in any direction to talk to someone. I handed out several business cards and got many back. I didn't feel like I was in competition with anyone but was there for a common goal: to make ourselves better.
It was inspiring to be at this conference. The panels were incredibly awesome, the people were super nice, and the whole experience was just fantastic. It felt good to be around like-minded people and to talk about writing. I almost didn't go to the conference. There was a sense of hesitation because of the cost and the distance, but with my friend there and my spouse basically shoving me out the door, I went. And I'm so glad I did. It was worth every moment.