When I first started attending conventions other than Origins (a gaming convention in Columbus) in 2006, it was before I joined Twitter. I only knew the person I was attending with, and my first real convention was San Diego Comic-Con. I got tickets for one day because I wanted to see the Battlestar Galactica panel. That year I got to know some vendors and talked to fellow geeks in line, but I didn't go to any parties or do much after the exhibit hall closed. I had no idea that anything happened after hours.
I kept going to Comic-Con and eventually added other conventions in 2009, and that was also the year I started making convention friends. Then through Twitter I connected with awesome people I couldn't wait to meet at in person at conventions. I also started picking up more writing work that sometimes meant just generally covering the floor, sometimes interviewing creators, and sometimes sitting in panels and writing them up later. Suddenly, I had to split my convention time a bajillion different ways. I didn't just go, walk around the exhibit hall until my feet fell off or I spent all my money, and collapse at the hotel room around 7pm.
Now, conventions have mostly become a balance between spending time with friends I only see a few times a year and working. I have to carefully figure out when I should go out to have fun and when I should be back in the hotel transcribing. If the show is more than two days, I try to leave one day off panel coverage and just focus on absorbing the exhibit hall for a recap. I usually run into friends along the way and get work and shopping done at the same time. If a convention is only two days, it's trickier.
Regardless of a sometimes harrowing schedule, I have fun. Experiencing conventions with friends, spending hours after or before the show catching up over meals is pretty much the best. Finding new creators, talking with ones you already know, or seeing artists you admire just get bigger and bigger every year - it's all fantastic. Not to say I don't get burned out by the end of convention season. But mostly? I can't get enough.
Speaking of conventions, here's where I plan to be the rest of this year:
San Diego Comic-Con
Star Wars Celebration VI
Baltimore Comic-Con - tentative
Long Beach Comic Con - tentative
Comikaze Expo - tentative