October 20th through the 26th, 2015. These seven days for me were possibly the best concentrated week in my life, at least that I can remember. Never before have I had the experience of being surrounded by so many people who so accurately understood where I was coming from artistically and personally. I can't recall a time that for such a long and concentrated amount of time I was having the kind of conversation and finding the kind of artistic support, feedback, and enthusiasm from such a large (and tightknit) group. I've walked away from Illuxcon 8 with experiences I'll cherish forever, and friends I hope to do the same with. The relationships that began in the past week are ones I'll cling to in the coming years, even if the people I've forged them with are not near me in person. I already miss them tons.

What was most amazing about the gathering was how vulnerable it was as an experience for me. I know this isn't a unique perception of the show, and I don't mean this as a bad thing; on the contrary, I think it's part of what made attending Illuxcon so great. I can say quite honestly that I had gotten some feedback that made me want to hide away, or in some cases disown pieces bitterly, that, in hindsight and post mental digestion, is some of the most honest and gracious consideration that I've gotten on my work as a whole, and I've left with a much more solid understanding of both what is working in what I'm doing, and what not, as well as what I can do to just get better. And I figured that I was in a rough spot for having to go away somewhere dark and lick my wounds but found that so many others, no matter the skill had gone through and were going through the same struggle (and if for  those wise, advice giving AD's or veteran artists, the constant onslaught of artists finding their footing with your wisdom's help is taxing in itself, I'm sure). 

I have a lot of big stuff swirling in my head from Illuxcon, but the one that's most prevalent is that it's not only okay to struggle but damn near everyone is going to do it, and if you aren't, you probably are not doing something right. So struggle on, cuz there are people out there going through the same, who have seen the same, who have done the same, and eventually you'll find the ones who are willing to clue you in on how to do it better.

I loved my time in Allentown, I love the people I met, and I can't wait to see where the wisdom that was given to me will lead me in the coming year. Though I'm still digesting what was said to me, I'll be sharing the more general knowledge I've picked up rather soon. As for y'all imaginative realists, I'll see you next fall.