Sunday, November 18, 2007

Conference Post-Mortem: (mostly just the high points)

As I mentioned a day or two ago, this was the first time I had attended this conference, and my anxiety about circulating around the outside of the conference were in part justified. I had a hard time finding my way into this conference. I spent a fair amount of time lurking on the edges of congregations, looking for a friendly face, and since most of the faces were of complete strangers, that was difficult. And because I’m not fantastic about simply introducing myself to people, that remained true for much of the weekend.

There were high points, though.

  • I ran into and shared one lovely friend from grad school who is doing very well for herself. She is, unlike me, astonishingly good at just getting in there and meeting people. I want to take her example more in the ways that I continue to position myself as an emerging scholar in this field, and that means A) coming back to this and perhaps one or two other conferences on a highly regular basis in order to become more of a known quantity, and B) being bolder about making connections at these things when I am here.
  • On Friday evening, Grad School Friend and I went to a reception for emerging scholars, where I was approached by a long-time reader of this blog (Hi Jenny!) who knew me from my older space where I used my real name. So she actually sought me out to say hello, which was so nice, and really made my day. We had a great conversation, in part about her fun and exciting work. I hope we’ll be able to meet back up when I visit her city for a conference in May.
  • Based largely on the model of my grad school friend, at the awards luncheon, I made what I think was a good decision: faced with the likelihood that I wouldn’t get to sit with anyone I knew, I located someone I wanted to know (fairly prominent in the field, and working on and teaching in one of my core areas), and she was great. She gave me her card and I’ve already followed up. I’m optimistic that this might be a productive connection for us both in the future.
  • While the actual seminar I participated in tended to go in a different direction than my smaller break-out group went, the discussion in the break out group was extraordinary. It completely helped me crystallize a major issue I had been having in this paper. And then the one question asked of me directly in the session helped me crystallize another.
  • In fact, these two moments, followed by a brief but very encouraging conversation with the seminar convener sent me back to the computer: I wrote until 1 am, producing 8 pages of new notes and prose toward an article length version of this paper. I am quite excited about it, and hope I’ll be able to finish off a draft over winter break (I'll give you a hint: it has to do with this shocking news).

So five high points over basically two conference days. While it was hardly the best conference experience ever, it was productive, and there were signs that it might be more productive with frequent returns.

5 comments:

Nels said...

That's fantastic about the writing! I'm so jealous.

Jenny said...

Hi! I didn't know you didn't know anybody, or I would have introduced you. It was my first time there too and I was so nervous, but it turned out I knew a ton of people. I was happy to meet you, and thank you for listening patiently while I bragged about my kid for awhile. I'm glad your seminar went well... mine was... umm... bad. Very bad. *I* was bored silly.

Sisyphus said...

I know how you feel about "new" conference experiences. I would have had lunch with you! And I'm glad you found someone to hang out/chat with.

Just think, the next year's version will be better.

Horace said...

Sadly the writing has now had tot take a backseat since I've returned to two batches of papers, a novel to re-read, about 70 candidate files to continue to wade through and a book project to edit...

Jenny, I was thrilled to hear about your kid...I hope I get to meet him in May!

And Sisyphus, you're right about next year... though Boston in November is not quite as appealing as Phoenix (though in some ways, more so).

adjunct whore said...

i thought it just great that you were so excited about your project/artice/writing that you stayed up late working. that is such a rush! it will come back as soon as other crap dies down...