I know what you’re thinking. “Odd title.” “She’s gone off the deep end.” “Is she medicated?” The quick answer: perhaps I should be. *snortle*
PTSD generally has a negative connotation. Not ’round these parts. For me it’s Post Transcendent Squee Disorder, a condition that rears it’s ugly head the moment you realize the next utopYAcon is a WHOLE FREAKIN YEAR AWAY! An ailment afflicting con attendees who fell victim to the magic that IS utopYAcon.
Last year, the virgin voyage of utopYAcon, was my first wee con and you can read my uber mushy PTSD blog post here. And when I say I cried, I totally did. Almost the ugly kind. But that’s what happens after utopYAcon! After two and a half days of complete immersion into a world of squishy community awesomeness, you sort of get addicted. Then the weekend passes and you come down off the utopYA high. You’re back to the real world, back to the writing task, the endless books, the same computer screen that mocks you with its blinking cursor. That’s where the PTSD kicks in.
As an attendee last year, I felt all the magic. It saturated the air much like Tennessee humidity. The whole ‘help you rise as I climb’ mentality soaks into every pore, urging you to be a part of that enigmatic world of the writing community. The thing is, it only feels enigmatic at OTHER cons. Not at utopYA. The community is very tangible, welcoming even, and will quite frankly snatch you by the lanyard if you linger too long in the corner. I felt it. I was part of it. It was part of me.
Then a couple months later, something amazing happened.
After one of our KidLit critique meets, Janet Wallace (aka: mama of the amazeballs utopYA) asked if I wanted to stay for a utopYAcon meeting. Of course I stayed. Pah-leeeze! Suddenly, I was a part of this amazing con and had the privilege to see how it all came together. Only 2013 was on track to be GINORMOUS compared to 2012. Lots of planning splattered the menu and, after a few shorts months, I became part of an amazing team.
Then something even more amazing happened.
The weekend of June 28th, 2013, as part of the utopYAcon staff, I got to see the magic happen for 320-something other people. Facebook friends united, Twitter stalkers united, bloggers, readers, writers, and authors united. They all came together, again, to embrace each other and their individual journeys. New friendships formed, old ones grew stronger, and despite the stickiness that is Tennessee, hugs and squee-ing filled the air.
Not only that, but I got to experience the magic…again. Seeing some of the utopYAcon alumni rocked my socks in a HUGE way. Chelsea Fine and Carol and Adam Kunz remembered me and had hugs to spare. M.R. Polish came stocked with an exhibitor table filled with her now published books. CJ Redwine sat on several panels and wowed with her humor and knowledge (I bow to thee). Even Myra McEntire hugged me, HUGGED I say, before hopping onto the panel pony. Jennifer L. Armentrout came as keynote speaker and totally knew me from Twitter! I got to sit next to her at dinner and get some serious fangirl on. Not the psycho-crazed fangirl kind, but the I-heart-you-and-I-suddenly-don’t-know-how-to-speak-properly kind. Others thought it was cute. Me? Sort of mortified.
At the close of the weekend, during the final thoughts, when the floor is opened to all, it happened again. The magic that is utopYAcon. Those who got up and shared their experience brought tears to my eyes and goose-pimples to my flesh. They felt it too! The magic lives on!
UtopYAcon may not be a hard-core intensive powered crafty con, but it has something that the other cons don’t; Community. No invisible lines, no expectations, no drama. Just the equal love of books, the written word, and a deep love of encouragement.
So what do us little utopYAcon goers do during the months we’re without the magic? We write. We befriend. We encourage the next in line. We support those who encouraged us. We READ! We dare to dream and dare to see them come true. PTSD is not to be taken lightly. It’s a condition that lives within all who have experienced the magic of utopYAcon, the little con that could. It urges us to carry on, to “Expand our Clumps¹,” and to “Dream Out Loud².” “UtopYA is what you make it³,” so make it yours.
UtopYAcon is a tangible unicorn. Touch it, and you too will carry the magic.
¹Quoted by Angeline Kace ²Quoted by Victoria Faye Alday ³Quoted by K.P. Simmon