So I didn't win, obviously, but I didn't expect to, and besides the prize money I don't know that it would have made much difference in the long run. I did have some judges (one of whom is a manager in one of the reputable agencies) ask for my contact info, so we'll see if anything comes of it. The best part, though, and this is true of my trip two years ago, is that the conference and festival and the entire experience just energizes me. I'm ready to write, every day; I have so many ideas; I'm just excited and confident. And, you know, even if I never become a professional writer, even if I never sell a single thing, even if writing just remains a "hobby," I'll be okay. Because I love writing, and everything else is just a bonus.
The traveling bits there and back were pretty average. The first day we rushed from the airport downtown to the Driskell Hotel, where the majority of the conference is held. The first panel was all about how to work AFF to your benefit, and it mostly came down to going to everything and talking to everyone. Then I went back to our hotel, way out by the airport, to work on my pitch. The finalists were invited to a special pitch session with a senior development exec from Pixar - just as practice, as a workshop; we knew up front that we weren't actually pitching to Pixar (they develop in-house with their directors anyway). I was not chosen as one of the three randomly selected finalists to pitch, but it was still going to be a good experience, just to listen in. And then I got an email Wednesday afternoon that someone had backed out and I was next up - the session was Friday morning. That gave me less than 48 hours to prepare a ten-minute pitch. Wednesday was out - I was buying last-minute this and that and packing. So it wasn't until Thursday night that I got a chance to sit down and start working.
Thankfully, I did a lot of acting and public speaking in high school. I know that two pages single-spaced is about ten minutes; I wrote a little less than that. I just wrote out word for word what I'd want to say. I had to stop about halfway through Thursday night and finish Friday morning. Then I just read the whole thing to myself like half a dozen times, went over it once with my sister, and off I went. And it went really well! I'm not afraid or nervous about public speaking at all, and it was a pretty intimate session, just about twenty people there watching. I went first, and did okay. Well, to me at least - apparently better than okay, if the number of people who came up to me the next two days telling me how great I was is any indication. I guess writers aren't known for being cool and articulate? LOL, so yeah, I was pretty pleased with that. At any rate, I know that if I do get a chance to pitch, I'll not embarrass myself.
Saturday was the awards luncheon, which was very fancy. Then I went to a big panel with Chris Carter, which was so much fun. I didn't get a chance to talk to him afterwards - his assistant whisked him away - but considering how important The X-Files was to me throughout my formative years, having the chance to just be in the same room with him was pretty amazing.
I have decided that if/when I go to AFF again, I'm going to skip renting a car and just stay in one of the more expensive hotels downtown. Driving back and forth multiple times a day and trying to find parking was an absolute nightmare. I'd rather just walk, and take a cab/the bus if I absolutely must.
In pitching Friday morning, I talked to a few people afterward. I pitched the screenplay I'm working on right now, which is a 60-years-post-zombie-apocalypse story with a teenage protagonist. Everyone told me I should write a YA novel, adapting my own screenplay, and I think that sounds like a great idea. So I'm going to officially sign up for NaNoWriMo and give that a shot. I'm pretty excited about the idea, if I do say so myself.
Oh, and my sister and I started watching Breaking Bad while we were down there. We are hooked!