I'm home now, safe and sound. It was a reasonably good trip back, and even though the time difference theoretically shortened my day, it still felt very long. My timing did seem to work out perfectly -- being checked out just in time to catch the airport shuttle that got me to the airport in plenty of time to make my flight but without a lot of time to kill, then back in Dallas the shuttle to the remote lot where the city bus stops came very soon after I got to the waiting area, and then the city bus was there when I got to the stop. Things went so smoothly that I caught one bus earlier than I had expected, so I was home half an hour earlier. I think I've finally worked out all the kinks for taking the city bus to/from the airport, aside from the minor detail that the bus to the airport doesn't run on weekends (I would go on a rant about the silliness of no public transportation to the airport on the busiest travel days, but I always seem to be the only person on the bus going all the way to or from the airport, so there's apparently not much demand for the service, or else no one knows about it). I am eagerly awaiting the opening of the light rail line to the airport because then I'll be able to take the bus from my house to the rail station, and that should shorten the travel time plus make it possible to do on weekends.
It's very difficult for me to quantify the benefit of going to this convention. There was no truly concrete outcome, like an editor asking me to write a short story for an anthology, or anything like that. I did a lot of non-networking, which mostly means hanging out with people who might possibly be beneficial to me in some way, but doing so without thinking about how they might be beneficial. I may never even use any of these contacts, and I think that's part of why I have them because I know that some of these people get frustrated with how many people seem to be trying to leverage something with them. And I would still hang out with these people even if they weren't prominent because I just happen to like them as people. Besides, it's always fun to be surrounded by men who are talking about how beautiful I am. That's not something that happens to me in real life. In real life, I'm invisible. At a convention, I'm a sex symbol. I suppose I should prefer that they talk about what a great writer I am and build up some kind of feminist ire, but in that crowd I'm not sure I count as a "great" writer, and at least one of them has talked about me being smarter than he is (even wrote that when autographing a book for me), so I'm not going to get my panties in a twist about being considered the pretty one.
I gave away a fair number of bookmarks and met lots of people, and I did fun things. Even though this was a "work" trip, it did have the elements of that relaxing vacation I keep talking about taking. The time difference meant I never had to set an alarm to get up in the morning, and my mornings actually felt pretty leisurely (usually when I'm staying at a nice hotel, I don't have time to linger in bed and have to get up early and rush off to events). I had enough time to just hang out and enjoy the nice hotel room. I did a lot of reading and hit the swimming pool/hot tub most days. I'm not even that tired, other than the general travel tiredness and some possible time zone adjustment. I did wake up in the middle of the night feeling disoriented when the arrangement of the room felt wrong, and it took me a while to realize I was at home and not in the hotel room.
I think most of my benefits were intangible. I picked up some bits and pieces of info that will likely make it into my career or my writing. I've got a better sense of what I need to do with this problem child book. I have some new promotional ideas. I'm more motivated because I've had the reasons I do what I do reinforced. I want to create great books that inspire fans. If I can carry that forward, then it will have been worthwhile.