I've had really good luck with gear from raid kills. I got an ascended dagger this week, and a Ghostly Infusion the first time I killed Gors. So now my list of ascended weapons has grown to the point where I'm making weapons before I have alts that can use them.
On the armor front, it doesn't seem like I'm using my tempest as a dps very much, so I've started using my shards to buy Yassith's gear for my necro. Gearing a condi class is very difficult compared to gearing a power dps, so I've decided to do most of that via shards. After I finish off my mesmer, I'm going to take a break from levelling and trying to gear out alts to make sure that my characters are in order. I'll have the following classes:
I've been having fun helping guildies gear and advising them on what to level, but the bottom line is this: if you want to raid and you don't hate on a primal level the heavy armor classes, you should craft an ascended heavy armor set and a few weapons that you can share among them. Warriors, revenants, and guardians are in demand these days in raids, are good 'alt' classes in that you can do average raid dps/performance with them without too much trouble, and don't have any gearing quirks that prevent you from sharing armor.
To the above list, I hope to add warrior and condi engineer eventually. The only reason I'm finishing out my mesmer and then taking a 'break' is because he's level 63, whereas my warrior is only 14. Even though levelling isn't difficult in Guild Wars--and I enjoy it--I'd like to feel a bit less pressure to have everything immediately, and I like to do at least some in-world levelling, which can be tiring.
Also, I've spent about 90% of my raiding time being a guardian, 8% being a tempest healer, and 2% being a tempest dps or condi necro, so you could argue that I don't *need* other alts except from a raid convenience/composition standpoint.
Have you ever read a book or rented a movie, only to find out that it wasn't anything like the description? (By the way, authors do not write their own blurbs, in case you were wondering why most of them are so awful.) I get angry when I'm out x amount of dollars and hours and the imaginary product I conjured in my mind blew the actual product out of the water.
Now, imagine paying hundreds of dollars to go to a time-limited event where each item you schedule overlaps or conflicts with other possibly-desirable events, and when you get there, you find out that the small paragraph that lured you in did not reflect the experience you received. That, in a nutshell, is every conference or convention I'd ever been too.
Sometimes it's safe to play it straightforward. If the pitch of a panel does not fulfill its claims in that case, it's poor presentation on the part of the author. Sure, your expectations may have been higher than what you received, but it didn't veer off topic. Panels such as 'How to Publish Your First Book,' or 'Should You Get an MFA' might not say what is maximally helpful to you or what you want them to say, but it's hard for them to miss the mark completely. Events like the 'Goddard College Reception' probably aren't going to hide anything devious.
It's the intellectual panels that are more problematic. So I've picked out the top two problem children at AWP. I'm enormously excited for these panels, but I'm aware that they could go in a completely different direction than what I expect.
Panel One: Seeing There: The Intersection of Visual and Literary Art
Their description: From a book cover or author portrait to comics, photo essays, and accompanying illustrations, writers are constantly confronted with how visual imagery compliments or complicates the written word. How can images be crafted that contribute to poetry and prose? Can an image ever take the place of language? What role does design and photography play within contemporary publishing? This panel examines how images and text cohere to create a product that is arresting for both reader and writer.
What I think it's about: How to present written material, pair written works with visual works, and use in-text hybridization to convey ideas.
Panel Two: Concentration Camps, USA: A Critical and Artistic Retrospective of Literatures of World War II Internment and Detention
Their description: In this tribute to WWII internment literatures, authors of works exploring internment camps and detention centers discuss, contextualize, and celebrate the historical, political, cultural, and creative influences shaping the literature that emerged from, and continues to emerge from, the WWII internment/detention experiences of persons of Japanese, Italian, and German ancestry.
What I think it's about: Surveying the literature that treats the subject of American internment/detention in the WWII era.
I'm looking forward to going and seeing how my expectations line up.
I leave for the AWP conference on Wednesday afternoon. As I wrote about earlier, it's a large industry conference with talks ranging from the meta of the field to craft nuts and bolts to intellectual discussions of concepts, and a great chance to socialize and meet with editors, agents, lit mags, presses, and writers. I'm in the planning stage of conference-going, so I'm making sure that my schedule works and has breathing room, and that outside commitments don't conflict with important conference-going goals.
As this is my first time at AWP, what I want out of the conference is to make connections, meet or catch up with people I know, and take in as many generally useful talks and advice as possible. I am revising my longer works in the hopes that I will meet someone who is interested in them, but I'm not going to shop them as aggressively as I would at a different type of conference.
As I went through and picked my list of panels, some themes emerged:
But, the important part is that there's plenty of relaxation time so that my brain can recover and keep learning and absorbing information. Tomorrow, I'm going to cover a very important part of conference talks: say what you mean. I'll analyze some specific panels based on their descriptions, and, after the conference, I'll follow up with whether the blurb matched the actual talk.