As I mentioned the other day, I was recently in New York City! Yes, really—I took the train and stayed in a hotel all by myself like a real grown-up! I was there for a conference, but not the one I've been to before. Once I finally dared go to ACES (American Copy Editors Society), I knew that the editorial conference bug had got me but good. But this was different: it was the EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association), which had not had a national meeting in more than 10 years. ACES is a huge organization, with members who work at newspapers, magazines, journals, businesses, online sites, and so on—plus freelancers like me. So, the sessions and workshops there address a wide range of industries, skills, and interests. EFA, on the other hand, caters just to us freelancers, so there's an additional focus on the fact that we're all running our own businesses. The EFA meeting was much smaller (about 200 people, as opposed to nearly 600 at ACES this past March) and shorter (just two days), but it was still plenty worthwhile and fun.
Not surprisingly, many of my ACES pals were there, as well as a number of my online editorial colleagues who hadn't been to ACES, so I was meeting them in person for the first time. And then there were completely new people to meet! And all this in Manhattan to boot.
I arrived on Sunday afternoon, having taken Amtrak for the first time ever. When I was young and carefree, I took trains all over Europe like it was nothing. But I had never taken a train in this country! I would definitely do it again—it was faster and more comfortable than taking the bus, and cheaper and less annoying than flying (and when you add in the extra time you need to arrive at the airport, and the transportation to and from the airport, you're really not saving much time to get from Boston to New York). I arrived at Penn Station and walked two blocks to my hotel, which was right smack in the middle of Koreatown—meaning it was also around the corner from the Empire State Building and just another two blocks to the conference location, at the CUNY Graduate Center.
My friend Jill and I were staying in the same hotel, which had a rooftop bar. We went up to explore and she took this photo of the amazing view of the Empire State Building:
First order of business was to meet up with Michael Ruhlman for drinks and book chat. (Yes, he's got a new one in the works! But no, not a cookbook this time.) The bar we wanted to meet at was closed (On a Sunday? Excuse me, but even in Boston bars aren't closed on Sundays!), so we went across the street to a much dumpier bar, but at least I got to have the stereotypical surly bartender experience I expected from NYC. (It was a mostly beer bar and we didn't want beer; the bartender was clearly scornful of us.) Anyhooo, it was great to catch up and to talk with him as he's finishing up the manuscript that I'll get for editing in a few weeks! Afterward he walked me over to the EFA kick-off event at the Heartland Brewery on the ground level of the Empire State Building. There I got to be reunited with all my editor pals who I am in touch with regularly online but rarely see in person (aside from a couple of Boston-area folks, and not even very much for them!).
Monday morning the conference started, so I got to see everyone else I'd missed, and meet many new people, and go to interesting sessions, and awkwardly apologize to Mary Norris for fan-girling all over her in Pittsburgh (and in the process re-fan-girled myself all over her again). They provided lunch for us there, which was kind of surprising and even disappointing because I had thought we'd get to go out and explore, but then again it was a bazillion degrees out there, so most of us just stayed put. (How I longed for the food truck park we went to every day at ACES in Portland!) That night a bunch of us went back to my awesome little rooftop bar and then out for dinner at Barn Joo 35, a Korean fusion place in "my" neighborhood. It was delicious.
The next day, up and at 'em again, with more interesting sessions and conversations with smart, funny, warm people who made me feel very much like I was where I belonged. Afterward a whole bunch of us went out to the bar that I had wanted to go to with Michael; we ended up eating there too since no one was inclined to get up and find somewhere else to go. It was loads of fun. And then Wednesday morning it was back to Penn Station for my train ride back home.
It was wonderful to connect with other people who not only do what I do but also work from home like I do. Someone joked that we should have all shown up in our pajamas and brought our cats to sit on our laps. I came away with new insights and practical advice and things to think about regarding my own work. Plus, it was just great to have a getaway. I know that people who travel a lot for work get sick of it fast, but for me it is very much a novelty—as is hanging out with colleagues in real life as opposed to just on Twitter.