Second year contributor
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Attending ICFA Three Months Before Graduation

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This weekend, I attended ICFA for the first time.

So I suffer from Impostor Syndrome, and I swore all of my interactions were going to go like this:

But actually, because everyone is so cool and we writers are all nerdy masochists who love our art, it ended up like this:

 

I got to present on a panel about Alternate History in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and it went really well. I got to talk about my thesis and talk about other people’s projects. We went to a bunch of presentations and listened to cool papers and hung out by the pool, and the best BBQ comes three hours late after long talks about injustice and mini-lessons on ASL. I got to get some great advice from some great mentors, listen to people’s new projects, and grab all of the books I could possible fit into my suitcase. Everyone is trying to figure it out, trying to fight for what they believe in, trying to reach out and share ideas and grow as a community, and the weekend went by too fast.

But the most important thing that happened at ICFA was the little glimpse I got into the future.   I’ve been looking at graduation as the one clear thing that is to come. I had no idea what my life was going to look like afterward or how to even begin to imagine a life in the writing community. Now I see there’s a whole new crackerjack box after Stonecoast. The party has only begun. It gets harder, it gets more frustrating, and we won’t have our professors to hold us up, but they gave us swords and taught us how to swing them and now we get to go use them in battle.

I’m looking forward to publishing more, going to more conferences, meeting more people, giving more panels. I want to grow up. I want to do cool stuff and get frustrated when something bad happens and be elated when a stroke of luck comes my way. I want to learn, and there is so much more to learn.

Graduation isn’t the end. It’s the prologue.

(Copyright: A Christmas Story by MGM, Parent Trap by Disney, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by Warner Bros.)

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Dawson is an MFA popular fiction student at Stonecoast. She holds an MS in Education and a BFA in Playwriting and English Literature. She is the founder of her alma mater’s Writer’s Guild and past editor-in-chief of their literary journal. She also has published plays, a short stories collection, and one really weird new age music demo that her parents made her release when she was fourteen. It was just as awkward as anything at the age of fourteen. Dawson now keeps a blog, “Ramblings of a Madwoman,” at www.jrdawson.org. Follow her on twitter @j_r_dawson.

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