My main experience with groups of individuals gathering for a likeminded purpose are comic conventions. Now, a convention is not a conference, and yet I kept imagining WDCW as a place full of people dressed up as their favorite literary characters as they shuffled from panel to panel, bags stuffed to the gills with ARCs and other bookish swag.
I’m somewhat relieved to report that it was nothing like this. WDCW showed me that I truly prefer conferences to conventions. And this felt like a fancy conference, filled with professionally dressed people, holding briefcases instead of backpacks, pens and notebooks instead of lightsabres and shields. Serious, creative, passionate people on a mission. People more interested in learning and sharing than in getting the latest collector’s item or signed photo to turn around and re-sell on ebay.
Don’t get me wrong. I love comic conventions. Comic cons are great for pure visual stimulation, discovering new things, finding great gifts, and catching up with old friends and regulars that you only ever seem to see within convention walls. Comic cons are fun, but the fact that they’re conventions means they’re more focused on consumption and individual quests for autographs, collectables, etc. than on a shared journey or experience.
That’s what I loved best about WDCW. The sense of community. Support from total strangers. I had literally just walked into the check-in area to retrieve my badge when a young man in line introduced himself to me. We spoke for a few minutes about our projects and goals and then went on our way.
Everywhere I went, people were smiling and engaging with one another. There was no pushing or shoving or weird nasty competitiveness. Only a cheerful sense of camaraderie – we’re all in this together!
I found myself getting swept up in all the positive vibes, and realized I may even make some new friends before the day was done.
To be continued…
This article was written by Tania