[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Sunday, 2013-04-07

Musings by a former SF convention staffer

Filed under: Conventions — bblackmoor @ 20:22

I spent this weekend at RavenCon, a SF&F convention in Richmond, VA. RavenCon was started by Michael Pederson, Tony Ruggiero, and Tee Morris (who, like Tony, left the staff a few years ago and has gone on to a successful writing career). I didn’t start it, but I am old friends with Mike Pederson, and I was there helping out at the beginning. This is the first year that I’ve attended that I haven’t been on staff. For the first few years, I helped design, print, and hang the large schedule signs, and I ran the movie room for a year or two until it was decided (and I agreed) that the room could be put to better use. For the past couple of years I did the programming, taking over from the previous program director, Tony Ruggiero (who was already a successful author, and is now even more so).

I had a couple of reasons for stepping down from being the programming director after RavenCon 2012. The main one is that, like Tee and Tony (or so I hope), I want to focus on my own writing. Setting up the programming for a convention is not terribly difficult, but it is ridiculously time-consuming. There’s also the matter that Susan and I have moved away from Richmond, so driving an hour or more each way for meetings was no longer something I really wanted to do.

While I did twitch a few times at things I would have done differently, it was nice not working during the convention. I could actually attend panels from the beginning to the end, and if I was having an interesting conversation I didn’t have to cut it short to go put out fires.

If you find yourself a convention volunteer some day (everyone on staff at a con is a volunteer), I have a suggestion for you: be gracious. Be gracious to the attendees, who pay good money to be there. Be gracious to the guests, who are doing the convention a favor by attending (often at their own expense), and for whom this is their livelihood (or at least an aspiration). Be gracious to the other volunteers who do the real work of the con — sitting for hours at the registration desk, or keeping the con suite supplied, or pushing carts full of audiovisual equipment from one end of the hotel to the other — all of whom are sacrificing their weekend, not being paid for their time, and who usually aren’t even able to enjoy the convention they are making happen because they are working the whole time. Be gracious, try to do a good job for the attendees and the guests, and try not to take criticism personally.