What Makes a Successful Convention?

While today is not quite the last day of Balticon 2023, it is going to be the last day for me and I’ve got a few thoughts about that.

First, if everything goes to plan, this post will be going live earlier in the day. As such, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include my Schedule for the day. Here’s where you’ll be able to find me:

Sun 11:30 AM – Why Superheroes? Why Now?                         
Sun 1:00 PM – Is SF/Fantasy Mere Escapism                       
Sun 8:30 PM – Plot a story from audience input

Pretty cool, right? Lots of good content and plenty of time between panels to unwind, grab some food, etc.

But as the con winds down (and believe me, that’s a gradual thing. I expect Sunday Night to be pretty hopping – to a point. More on that later) Part of me cant help but look back on the weekend and wonder:

Was it worth it?

Now maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion in my own head – which is a valid stance to take, as I’m prone to do just that – but there’s a part of me that can’t escape the fact that this trip has been disruptive. It’s cost money. More importantly, it’s cost time. Time away from the family. Time away from the day-to-day routine.

It’s disruptive. There’s no two ways about it..

So was it worth it?

I’m composing this at 11:15 pm on Saturday night and I’m struggling with the answer.

My knee-jerk reaction is “Of Course it was worth it.” Naturally I don’t have any evidence to support that. It’s just me not wanting to admit that I’ve wasted both time and money by making this trip.

But although I can’t directly attribute any book sales to this particular trip, upon reflection, I do think it was a worthwhile trip, despite the way things turned out.

Let me explain: It had been several years since my last in-person convention. I’m a different person now than I was back then. I think the same thing can be said of all of us, but all I had to go by was memories from arguably a different world. Those memories included large clusters of people hanging out in the bar, talking to all hours of the morning, and that just didn’t happen. Well it did, to a point, but it didn’t include anyone I knew. Everywhere I looked I found groups of people that already knew each other, coming together with the kind of joy reserved for folk who didn’t expect to see each other.

That kind of thing is hard for me to work my way into. I felt like I was completely new to the environment – and in multiple ways, I was just that. Back to Square One. Couple that with not having worked my “Peopling” muscles in any real way for several years and…well…it was difficult.

Difficult, but not impossible. Over the course of a couple of days, I met and engaged with people to the point where they could pick me out of a group of more that 3 people. That might sound pretty harsh, and I suspect that I might not be giving myself enough of the benefit of the doubt, but there you have it.

People remembered me, and I’m going to call that a success.

Other successes would include getting out of the hotel, to look around this new place. Find places to eat where I’ve never been before. Coming away with new experiences is a success for me now.

Finally, I didn’t write a damned thing this weekend – ok aside from this post. And while you might be wondering why that falls into the success column, I can only say that being in this environment, having the discussions, both on panels, and in the hallways and bar, have recharged batteries that had been running dry for a long time.

I went to panels for no other reason than because I wanted to. I went to events that I normally wouldn’t have bothered with before. Things like concerts and filk sing-alongs that rekindled the desire to learn how to speak the language of music and song that had fallen off my radar, quashed by everything else going on in life.

This weekend has re-ignited the drive, the spark, to create in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time. Oh, the need to write has been there, but the drive had been blunted. What I’ve experienced this weekend has sharpened the edges, so to speak, and in more than one direction.

I admit that the weekend didn’t turn out quite as I’d imagined that it would have done. But it turned out the way I’d needed it to.

And I’m going to call that a success.

Thanks for reading. Be safe out there. Be Excellent to Each other – and yourself.

I’ll see you on Thursday.


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Weird Wild West


Grease Monkeys

Predators in Petticoats