The first year was all about panels. Get to as many panels as possible. If a panel is good, feel lovely and wonderful, and get a little ego boost from picking so well. If a panel is bad, sit and try to get something out of it anyway, and feel a little silly for not having chosen very well. Meet friends for meals and discuss all this very, very seriously. Oh, and make sure all those friends are people you know from home - don't branch out too much . . .
The second year was about finding a comfort zone. Go to a lot of panels. Feel free to leave if it's not so great, or if you suddenly realize that three hours of sleep was not enough. Learn to be "open to the universe," that is, be willing to smile and say hello to people in the hallways. Strike up conversations with total strangers. Realize that you can get any writer to talk for at least 20 minutes if you just ask "so what are you working on?" Realize you are one of those writers. Forgive yourself.
The third year was all about people. I went to some panels, but not as many as prior years. I met a lot of people, and wasn't nearly as shy. I felt comfortable, and even more than that, I felt at home.
What was really cool about this year was that the comfortable-ness let my brain do other things: make new friends, think about my own writing, come up with new ideas for stories and for my own process. It's like my brain woke up, and it has yet to shut down.
I'd gone through a bit of a dry spell over the last few months. I was writing, but it felt a bit stale, and I wasn't generating ideas or coming up with cool turns of phrase in the car like I had in the past. This past week has been different. I've had to pull out a notebook on my drive to work every morning (don't worry - I only write at stoplights, or in parking lots if the idea is really good). The protagonist in my WIP is speaking to me again. I've got short story ideas falling out of my ears, and all kinds of things I want to research. It's exciting!
I think one of the biggest things I was reminded of at WisCon was that I'm part of something that is so much bigger than just me at my desk. There are people out there who want to hear my stories, and I can't wait for theirs. Hey, I even found out there are real people reading this blog!! (Yay!!)
We always say that writing is a solitary process, but I was reminded of how untrue that really is. For every writer there are readers, and other writers, and fans, and publishers, and editors, and we're all here because we love this stuff. The stories are what keep us going and bind us together, and that is very, very cool.