I'm at the airport terminal armed with only an iPad so bear with me in this link-less and unedited post.
A friend, a fellow bibliophile (in fact she runs a book blog and has chatted with her fair share of authors), told me that if I was going to San Diego, I needed to visit Mysterious Galaxy. "They have a lot of signed books," she said.
I replied that I wasn't that enthusiastic about signed books. Or photos for that matter. (I was getting both photos and signatures at WFC2011 however.) I can understand this attachment, however. After all, back in the days before the Internet, this was one of the ways readers connected with authors.
Before my trip, prolific local author Dean Francis Alfar (who deserves to go to a World Fantasy Convention as his fiction continues to evolve and impress) instructed me to take photographs. "We need proof," he said. "You're also representing the Philippines so you should wear something nationalistic." Which is how I ended up wearing a modern barong during the Banquet (I'm not that fond of formal wear - and a barong is impractical with the relatively cool weather of North America).
There were also books that I asked to be signed or bought, mainly as gifts and pasalubongs to friends, since my mentality is the exception rather than the norm.
So what is important for me? My relationship with authors.
I've been chatting with some publishers, editors, and authors over the years. Email. Twitter. Facebook. Livejournal. Even the occasional Skype. I wouldn't say that I have a deep relationship with them. But there's a few that I've nurtured over the years. So as starstruck as I am meeting and chatting with the likes of Peter S. Beagle, Holly Black (waves in case she's reading this), Graham Joyce, Shawna McCarthy, Garth Nix, Sean Williams, Scott Lynch, etc. (some of which might not even remember me), my most memorable moments of WFC2011 were those private, intimate moments with friends I discovered online: Alisa Krasnostein, Ellen Datlow, Theodora Goss, Juliette Wade, Mary Robinette Kowal, Karen Lord, Jaym Gates, Christie Yant, John Joseph Adams, Jonathan Strahan, Jeffrey Ford, etc. There were acquaintances I wish I could have spent more time with such as Wendy Wagner and Shweta Narayan, but unfortunately, there wasn't enough time. It was also a pleasure to meet new friends like Na'amen Tilahun and Emily Jiang, as well as to learn more about people I was already acquaintances with such as the talented Kate Elliott, Mari Ness, Nalo Hopkinson, and Deborah Biancotti. (There's more names that I've temporarily forgotten and omitted, but you get the point.)
I didn't win any awards - and Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press really deserved it - but WFC2011 was easily the best week of my life because I was able to spend time with friends. I'd easily give up a chance to have lunch with Neil Gaiman (just as an example) in order to have lunch again with Theodora Goss.