by Julie, still recovering from a weekend away
Last weekend I went to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to attend Left Coast Crime. Two years ago, Left Coast Crime was in San Diego, and it lasted less than a day before it was shut down because of Covid. That memory made this year’s gathering all that much sweeter, and appropriately the conference kick-off event for many people in 2022.
Over the past two years, we’ve all gotten used to online events and gatherings. We check in with each other on Zoom chats as a way to connect. As writers, we are able to be on panels that would have been impossible because of geography in person. In many ways, online events are more accessible, since people don’t have to travel or carve out large chunks of time. I also know that I’ve gotten in the habit of having regular Zoom chats with friends I hadn’t talked to in a long time, and I’m grateful for those connections.
And yet, there’s nothing like seeing folks in 3-D, like last week at the conference. What’s the best part? For me, it’s the small things that add up. The ability to have conversations with someone over the course of three days, instead of trying to jam it all in during a twenty-minute call. Giving, and getting, hugs. Taking a walk, getting a meal, grabbing coffee, going to a giftshop–all activities I took for granted until 2020. Now each walk, taco, latte and t-shirt shop I visited last weekend was a shared experience with other people, a gift unto itself.
One of the most important things writers learn early on is that writing is solitary, but you need your community. You need people who understand your journey, people who can celebrate the highs, and support you through the lows. People who can help you brainstorm a new idea, or offer advice. The gift of meeting readers who support you and your work, which is a tonic. Conferences like Left Coast Crime, or next week’s Malice Domestic, are community gatherings that have been on hold for two years, and now they’re starting to come back. We can see each other in 3-D again, and it’s wonderful. And exhausting–I’m still recovering from four days of talking, laughing, and being with people. But it’s mostly wonderful.
I’m grateful for Zoom, which has filled the void. I’m grateful for the volunteer conference committees who have kept the faith, and are ready to go now that people are vaccinated and gatherings can be held again. (Seriously, these volunteers are amazing.) And I’m grateful to see people in 3-D. I don’t think I’ll ever take that for granted again.