Three days in New York City, by myself. Fun times!
I had a really good trip. Left home at 2:30am to catch a 3:30 am train at the Niagara Falls, NY Amtrak station. There is only one train per day which runs from the Canadian side to NYC, and the timing didn’t work well for me, so the Empire Service train state-side was the right choice. As a bonus, crossing the Rainbow bridge at 3am is a breeze.
9 hours on the train. I tried to sleep, but I’m really bad at sleeping while traveling. Always have been, even as a kid. I closed my eyes, got reasonably comfortable in a seat that reclines about 6 degrees from vertical, and rested for a long time. I read a book, played games on my phone, watched the scenery go by after the sun came up, got a snack from the cafe car, etc. The train wasn’t too busy, so I had a seat to myself and access to an electrical outlet..
Arrived at Penn Station in NYC just before 1pm. My hotel wasn’t far, but my bags were heavy so I took a cab. Could definitely walked it faster if not for the heavy luggage.
I stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel on the corner of Madison and 45th. Very expensive classy hotel. And the host hotel for the WD Writer’s Conference. The conference discount dropped the room rate to about half regular price. Good thing too, because it certainly wasn’t worth $400/night. I understand that famous, old, upscale hotels in Midtown are pricey, but for that rate I could do without the carpet stains, leaky toilet, excruciatingly slow elevators, etc. One lady I spoke to said the door to her room was jammed and she had to throw her shoulder into it to get in every time, and wrench as hard as she could to get out. By the end of the weekend she had bruised shoulders and a pulled muscle in her arm.
Also I had to hang around in the lobby for about 2 hours waiting for my room to be ready. By the time I got into my room I had 5 minutes to shower, dress, and run to my first session.
I spent Friday afternoon attending talks and panels from about 3:30 till 7. In my next post I’ll go into detail about the conference. After the agents Q&A, I skipped the opening keynote speech in favour of catching a show. I saw Newsies and it was very good. The cast is almost all very young performers just beginning their Broadway careers. The dancing was excellent and the little boy who played Les was way too cute. Very enjoyable. After the show I stopped at an Irish Pub I found on the way back to the hotel for supper.
Saturday I slept too late to make it to the first session, but I attended a 10am talk, then skipped the 11am. I spent that hour, plus the 45min lunch break in a restaurant eating soup and working on my pitch. At 1:30 I attended my Pitch Slam. Interesting, exciting, and frightening experience. But at the end of the hour I had 5 invitations to submit material, which made the entire weekend completely worthwhile.
Spent the rest of the afternoon attending panels and then the cocktail reception. Got autographs from 2 writers whose talks I attended and had a nice, encouraging conversation with one of them. Socialized with a few agents and Writer’s Digest staff, as well as lots of other aspiring writers.
After the reception I went to another show. I saw Chicago and it was outstanding. The cast were all experienced Broadway stars, with film and tv credits. The singing and dancing were amazing. The staging was unique, with the orchestra on stage and visible to the audience at all times. They were on a steeply raised platform which doubled as an entry/exit point for characters. The musicians and conductor even interacted with the characters at times. I loved it.
Sunday I woke up late and not feeling well. I showered, packed, and caught a cab to Penn station without attending any of Sunday’s events. Had lunch at the station before boarding my train.
Storms and delayed train traffic extended my trip by an hour and a half. Instead of arriving in Niagara Falls, NY at 10:30pm, we didn’t arrive until 12am. Who knew that rain could cause so many problems for trains? Who knew that trains aren’t water-proof? I had to move my luggage to avoid the drips from the leaky roof and to keep stuff out of the puddles that formed on the floor.
Fortunately my trip home was made more interesting by both my seat partner and the man across the aisle.
Leaving NYC, the train was very full, so I sat with an older lady who was sitting at the back of the car, facing backwards. This is a spot for disabled people, with room for a wheelchair or whatever. This woman had a walker. She was only on the train for about an hour, but in that time I learned her entire life story, and then some. I helped her make the 15′ trip to the bathroom and back to her seat, as she had a hard time walking, and adjusting to the motion of the train. I helped her with her luggage at her stop. Thankfully she had people waiting for her at the station.
The man across the aisle was blind and partially hearing impaired. The train conductor took pretty good care of him, bring him food from the cafe car and such, but wasn’t always around. I helped the man find his way to the washroom, took his lunch remains away for him, and helped him keep track of his stuff. He was traveling alone and is remarkably independent for having so many challenges in his life. He works with blind/deaf youth to help them learn to communicate effectively. He gave me his card with contact info when he left the train at Rochester.
All and all, I had a great trip. Interesting, informative, helpful, and entertaining.