This past weekend, I attended my 3rd ever Imaginarium Convention. Normally, I’d sit here and go over all the things I learned and shout out the people that I met. This will go a bit differently.
Instead, I’m just going to reflect on what I learned about the experience I had overall.
I arrived at the hotel on Wednesday, a week ago today, got checked in, and sat. Just sat down. It’s amazing how valuable it is to just sit. Life is so hustle and bustle, especially when you’re traveling. It doesn’t matter much far you’re traveling or how long it takes. Give yourself time to relax.
After I got settled I took care of some business and helped the organizers, Holly and Stephen, load their stuff in and we just sat and fellowshipped. We had a wonderful time just talking and getting to know each other. Stephen and I discussed bourbon and Holly and I discussed our shared love for cooking. I shared some of my recipes and was invited to their home sometime in the future for a cooking weekend.
I returned to my room and settled back in. Shortly thereafter, a favor was asked of me and I accepted. I was asked by Holly and Stephen to pick up one of the convention’s special guests from the airport the next day. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel in the morning, but I knew how important it was that they were able to ask someone they trusted to help and I was happy to be of service.
Got to the airport, picked up the guest, and returned to the hotel. When I got back to the hotel I saw my friends James and Don. I was happy to see them both, but I hadn’t seen James in two years and we weren’t as close then so it was nice to see my FRIEND James in person. I also saw Laurel again and I met Scott. They were going out to eat and invited me to join them. I agreed and had a wonderful time. It was the first time that I had a chance to sit with Laurel and she’s such a sweet person. It was a shame that she wasn’t going to be at the convention, but she had her reasons and I understood.
Don brought his young daughter (and co-author) with him this year. All things considered, it was nice to see Don in one of his other life roles. So many times we find ourselves in particular spaces that we only express singular facets of ourselves but humans are all so multi-faceted and it was nice to be reminded of that.
There was a reading at Butcher Cabin Books (horrorbookstore.com). Here I saw my friend Tommy, his lovely wife Carrie, Bridget and her husband (whose name I didn’t catch), Anton, and Jenny, the owner of the bookstore, along with James, Don, Laurel, and Scott. It was such a good time and such an interesting reading. The lovely thing about horror is that horror, as a genre, can encompass EVERYTHING. Whether it’s historical (as in Don’s reading from his book Magnolia Lane) to the absolutely absurd (as in Scott’s story, Primordial Soup). Both are horror and neither are anything alike.
After dinner, Scott, Laurel, and I went out for late-night ice cream. I wouldn’t say I was uncomfortable, but I was guarded since I had only met Scott that day and I hadn’t really known Laurel personally. Normally, I’d had someone I already knew well with me as a buffer but not tonight. Scott asked me a very good question about race and film and with the sensitive nature of the question, he, in my opinion, made himself vulnerable to my reaction. I felt trusted and it led to a wonderfully deep conversation over ice cream. Absolutely amazing. I really felt that I made two new friends that night and I’ll cherish that night.
The convention began the next day and there were many panels and notes taken, but the real lessons were from conversations. Take nothing away from the wonderful panelist throughout the convention, but I learned more in individual conversations in and around the panels. If I had to guess why I’d say it was because we all remember how important human interaction truly is to not only the creative process (I have a future project from a conversation in a car) but to revitalizing the human spirit. Whether we had questions about the ethics of using A.I. (or expert systems) during a panel, a late-night conversation about how #EverythingComesBackToWrestling (because it DOES and the t-shirt is available at DwanLHearn.com/Shop), fawning over how awesome the white-on-black bedroom set in one of the suites look, a breakdown of how good someone’s meatballs were (and recognizing how genuine someone’s online persona is), or listening in on a conversation about the correct plural of “octopus” (which, according to dictionary.com is either “octopuses”, “octopi”, or the proposed “octopodes” - all of which are acceptable) - no matter what the talks were about it was people sharing thoughts and ideas; strangers bonding over broad commonalities.
Sometimes at Imaginarium, you can get so busy that you forget (or just neglect) to eat. A friend, Carma, fussed at me to ensure I ate on Saturday. Carma is a beautiful woman with an even more beautiful soul. She wasn’t personally responsible for me at all, but she showed love and care for me. This was seen all throughout the conventions in one form or another. It really helps to validate the foundation of family that Imaginarium rightfully claims to be.
At the awards ceremony, I was runner-up in the category of Best Screenplay - Short Form. I’m proud of this award and I’m truly humbled and thankful for everyone who supported me to the point of getting this award. As you probably tell by this point in the blog, that was the least meaningful part. I sat with a joyful young woman named Teri, representing Three Ravens Publishing, who sat next to me at dinner and was a fantastic dinner partner. It was great having such a positive person to share a meal with. Two seats in the other direction, I had the most pleasant surprise - I found a Hitchhiker! The Hoppiest Frood named Yvette and I had the most incredible conversations about our shared love for Douglas Adams’ book. I had a few conversations with her over the weekend, each more fun than the first.
So many people came up to me to congratulate me on the award and asked me about my writing. It was nice to be recognized for something I’ve been doing my whole life and to be seen as a contemporary. That respect from other writers means the world to me. I’m so thankful to have the encouragement and enrichment that the like-minded people of this convention provide.
Thank you all and thank you Imaginarium!
- The Moon