First of all – my first conference paper? I did it! And it went really well! I had good feedback from the conference organiser (who chaired my panel) and various people who’d been listening. I had people nodding along to points I was making, and telling me they really enjoyed it, and more importantly the panel I was on (which included a friend of mine) really gelled – the papers fit together really well and complemented each other, and all were very interesting too.
I’ve already said one of the panellists was a friend of mine – we shared a hotel room the night before, and went out in Leicester to a dinner paid for by the university where we got the chance to meet the organiser and some of the other presenters. I must have come across a right fool as I did mention that it was my first conference and I was freaking out a little, but I got some good tips on presenting and handling Q&As. After the meal a few of us went onto a pub, where I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening chatting about fandom, vampires, tattoos, Wales and loads of other things. The morning of the conference itself was a bit of a nightmare as we managed to get lost on the way to the university (how we managed that, given we were staying less than a mile away I don’t know) and missed the whole of the registration and some of the keynote speech. But thankfully we were there for all of the panels, and there were a lot of interesting papers, including one on vampires in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld which I found fascinating, and one on a British vampire series of novels called The Radleys which has made me a) want to read the books and b) think about the difference between British and American vampire fiction written at the same time and what each says about the societies in which the author is living/writing. It was a shame I couldn’t get to all of the panels – there were some really interesting papers that I missed out on because there were other things I wanted to listen to, but it was definitely well worth attending.
I’ve also discovered the importance of conferences for networking. I’ve had requests for copies of the paper and the bibliography from a variety of people, have been given business cards (which reminds me, I need to get my own for any other conferences I go to) and I’ve also been asked if I’d be interested in submitting chapters to two books (one on vampires and one on Twilight). The organiser of the Erotic Adaptations conference I withdrew from in January also managed to persuade me to rethink my withdrawal. So I will be talking about first time XF fics to a bunch of academics in two months’ time!
I had a whale of a time though. I was really nervous at first but once I got up there and starting talking I got much more into it. It was really interesting listening to the other papers too, and chatting to different people in the coffee breaks. Yay me!