Convention Burn-Out and the Year to Come

Just wrapped up my stint at GameHoleCon. I spent a lot of my weekend running demos of the Scarred Lands material for gamers at the show, and I can’t tell you how tiring it is to run games for strangers. I feel wiped, even though I was sitting for most of the weekend. I had a good time at my first GameHoleCon, but it will likely be my last GHC for some time — despite being in my hometown — for reasons of my own.

In fact, GameHole Con is the first of three conventions this month. This weekend I’ll be attending the premiere event of the Steampunk year, TeslaCon, in Madison, Wisconsin. The following weekend is the Thanksgiving Holiday here in the US, and also the start of the rabid holiday shopping season, which I will be avoid as much as possible. The Monday after, I pick up a rental van and Matt McElroy and I drive to Philadelphia to help rep Onyx Path at Pax Unplugged. Three conventions in four weeks is a lot, and I’m glad it’s the end of convention season.

Which brings me to next year. This past year has been an expensive one for us, due to some costly auto and household issues among other things. Next year, besides having a couple more such issues on the horizon — that we KNOW of — will also include one expensive overseas vacation. That means my convention schedule will need to be cut back, if only to provide more writing time and relieve some pressure on our household finances. I am still open to appearing as a convention guest if anyone is interested in inviting me, but the cons I go to on my own dime will probably be limited to Midwinter (January), Geneva Steam (March), Stoker Con (May), Chicago Steampunk Expo (September) and TeslaCon (November). There’s probably room for one or two more events I attend on my own, but I need to be careful about that next year.

GenCon is a huge beast of a show, and the logistics and expense of attending on my own are nightmarish. Onyx Path may be adjusting their presence at the show, so they may not have the room (or the budget) for me even if I was willing to work whatever booth configuration is decided on, or run games for them. Our Big Trip coincides partly with the dates of WisCon — another hometown event — so I won’t be attending, or helping out the Carl Brandon Society with grocery shopping for their annual at-con party this year.

Conventions are an expensive proposition. They’re great for writers to network and build a fan base, but they are costly, both in time and money. As much as I enjoy attending conventions, they are also tiring: they’re a lot of work if you’re there in the sort of capacity that I usually am — promoting my work as an author — and the benefits aren’t always tangible, and even more rarely are they immediate. Still, I won’t disappear from the con scene completely, but I do need to pick and choose my allocations more carefully for a while.

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