The thing is, it was the best for so many reasons, any one of which would've been awesome on its own. The programming - and not just the epic and legendary butts panel, which kythryne and I mischievously live-tweeted. The company - so many clusters of old friends and new. Getting to see some of my favorite people, getting to know online acquaintances and develop them into true friendships, meeting fantastic new people - twice I just darted up to awesome people and said "You say smart and funny things and I would like to be your friend," and it turns out that that line works, y'all. Dinner with the poets, ridiculous sparkly makeup party (where I shifted an entire unrelated party into our room and got butch MilSF guys I had just met to get their eye makeup done), random dance party in the hotel bar (I was the one who requested "Starships", you're welcome), poetry open mic (where I dibsed someone's poem and one poet said a sentence that has never before been said in a reading: "This poem will be appearing in Liminality"; I chairdanced), being on great panels with great fellow panelists (and being quoted and complimented by Samuel R. Delany holy crap y0), the Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours, the impromptu monologue by Ellen Kushner that turned into a folk-song circle, being swarmed at the Meet the Pros(e) party...
I think you get the idea. It was a whirlwind. And absolutely everything in that whirlwind was wonderful. One of my new friends (who that line totally worked on) said on Twitter "This was the magic I needed." Yes. This was so exactly and perfectly the magic I needed.
And... it's a learning experience in places, too. I've been accustomed to cons being a place where I hang out with friends, colleagues, and friends who are colleagues. Last year at Meet the Pro(s) I became aware that also: fans. This year that was even more apparent, with multiple people coming up and introducing themselves and telling me how much they liked my stuff ("The Final Girl" has the most fans, but "Becca at the End of the World" and "Happy Hour at the Tooth and Claw" are close seconds). And for the first time, my reading had more people I didn't know than people I did - and it was a nice-sized audience. So I had to consciously change my approach at times - make sure my conversational groups looked open, make sure I'm available and didn't look perpetually busy. I lingered wistfully at the song circle, but decided to leave for Meet the Pros(e) (a party where authors have stickers with a line from their work and trade those stickers with other writers or give them to people who ask for them) because I knew (and liked!) everyone in the circle, but thought there might be people hoping to see me at Meet the Pros(e) - and there were. Half my stickers were gone before I could get ten feet into the room, and people knew what the line was from, and asked for advice, and told me about their work - two people had just made their first pro sales, and I made my part of the room cheer for them! So I'm really glad I did that and didn't just cluster with people who were already my friends.
I'm just not used to it. I'm used to being able to think that only people I know read my stuff. I really can't ignore the fact that other people do anymore! And since I am recommitted to the whole writing thing, I have to adjust to this new reality. It's hard enough to balance time at a con with all of the wonderful friends/colleagues! Adding in availability to fans creates more complexity. I think I did well. I hope so. And it's definitely a thing to actively plan for in the future.
(EDIT: Also now I am the person everyone turns to look at when someone says "That's a good idea for an anthology." I mean I guess people liked Flying Higher and I am co-editing a poetry magazine but you guys, I have no money, and running a Kickstarter would just make me super-twitchy for a full month...)
I would name all the people who made my con wonderful, but I don't think that's physically possible! If I saw you at all, even for just a wave across a crowded room, you're one of them. Thank you.
Although I'll pull one out, because it relates so strongly to me actively deciding who I want to be and acting accordingly. After the poetry dinner, Sofia Samatar told new friend Gabriel (this was his first con ever!) that she was so happy I'd spotted him and pulled him into our crowd. At her first Wiscon, she said, she was a total wallflower too shy to speak to anyone - she didn't have a Shira. And the way she spoke of me as a person who welcomes everyone and grows our community and gives us new fun chances to do stuff... it meant so much, especially now. That is who I strive to be, and I'm so glad it shows.
Exactly the magic I needed, and so much food for thought.