Seeds

When I posted yesterday’s post-mortem, I was expecting some people to be angry. I was expecting some people to be surprised. I was expecting some people to share it with friends. I wasn’t expecting it to be the most widely distributed tract I’ve ever written. I think more people have read that post than have read all three of my novels. Maybe not if you count them together, but certainly independently.

Looking at Google Analytics, I think it may be combined.

When I first proposed the idea of running for chair to Keet in May of 2015, we were on the drive back from Furlandia, having just helped in their operations department. We’d been talking about how much fun we’d had in Portland, and I said I wanted to run a con one day. She asked me if I had a theme, and I said then that I didn’t, but that I knew what I wanted was to drive the idea of narrative. RainFurrest had always positioned itself as the furry writing convention, and that was a large part of why I enjoyed working for them so much. I was amazed at BLFC‘s implementation of a convention story, and heartened at the way the attendees seemed to pick up on it and embrace it. More than anything, I wanted to give RainFurrest’s attendees a chance to be part of a story.

We had the first version of what would become the Search for Kaldera written by the time we got home. I’m particularly proud of the name Sloman Cherepok for our eccentric historian; it’s a double-reference in a foreign language. In Russian, черепок (“cherepok”) means a pot or a fragment of pottery, but it’s also slang for somebody’s head. Meanwhile, сломан (“sloman”) means “broken” or “cracked.” In other words, not only is he a “cracked pot,” but he’s “broken in the head.” I have never pulled that off before, and I’m damned proud of it.

Keet warned me when I signed up that I was committing myself to a heavy workload, and I knew it. I accepted, at the outset, that running RainFurrest would be a huge time-sink, but I was okay with it because this had been a dream of mine for a decade. I worked at Anthrocon under first SusanDeer and then later K.P., and chairing a major event had been part of my goals ever since. When I ran for the RAIn board, I went in saying that I was looking forward to one day launching an event of my own, and that I was hoping to participate in RAIn and the upper echelons of running RainFurrest to help me learn how.

Boy howdy did I learn.

Unfortunately, over the last six months, even though I knew I would be putting large chunks of my life on hold for the con, I spent a large amount of that time in hurry-up-and-wait, ears and whiskers straining to pick up any sign of motion. As a result, I feel like I’ve let huge parts of my life fall fallow. I had only just started to reinforce the blogging habit, which I set aside first because I was busy with convention setup, and then because I didn’t think I could say anything without saying everything. I had one novel, originally a submission for the 3-Day Novel Contest in desperate need of a full rewrite. I had the outline of another novel — First Step‘s ideas expanded — busily unfolding into a trilogy. I had plans for organized hookah-and-philosophy nights in the Observatory. I had visions of play parties in the recently reorganized garage once the weather warmed. All of it withered. Much of the planning was done, but the will to execute on any of it just… drained away.

Then, two Fridays ago, everything came crashing down. The big project for which I’d been willing to put everything else in my life on hold for over a year ended eight months early in a single angry phone call, followed by stifling silence. In hindsight, I’m really grateful that it happened while I was in the parking lot of the Foolscap hotel, and that I was able to have such an excellent and relaxing time there. I still spent several hours over the weekend angrily working on the first draft of yesterday’s release, but I was able to put it down from time to time and go be around other people. Most importantly, I didn’t have time to finish the post that Sunday before Orbus offered to proof-read it. I hesitate to think what I might have said and how if left entirely to my own devices that weekend.

Finally, though, with the posting of that post-mortem, I feel as if I can move on. My term as “Chair of RF2016” is over, my final duty discharged. I can finally turn my attention back to all the things I set aside to run. Only Human deserves some love and attention. I think I understand now how to pull Thirteenth Step into a full set of three books. I might try to organize a Patreon to get some support for those, though I’d have to make them per-episode, not per-month; I don’t know what kind of output I’m going to be able to maintain. Keet and I have already started talking about a larger event we might want to organize — one not aimed at the furry community — and I’ve started shaping two additional cons for the fandom, if we can get our name out of the mud in the next five years. The hookah nights can resume.

The play parties will probably have to wait for the weather to get warmer; my garage is unheated.

Most importantly, I need to remember that I have a voice, and that even when I can’t talk about some things, I should find ways keep talking. One of my biggest problems when I’m really deep is that I feel like I can’t, for fear of turning into That Stoner. You know who I mean, the person who can’t help but utter “I’m so high” every five minutes and livestreams their consciousness for everyone else in the room. I don’t actually know any That Stoners, but I’ve been That Stoner before, so I’m a little sensitive to it. That happens to me every so often when I blog, too. I’m so unused to getting feedback when I try to write that I feel like I’m impinging on the void. I need to remember not to do that. Not that I should ramble, mind you, but that I can — should — continue to hurl my voice into the void, regardless of who seems like they’re listening.

I know you’re out there. You don’t have to answer me. It should be enough for me to know you’re there. Time to plant the seeds, and see what grows.

And in the glow of the moon, know my deliverance will come soon.

2 thoughts on “Seeds

  1. Thank you for writing both the post mortem, AND this. I often think that a large portion (more and more so these days with larger overall numbers and loads of younger members in the crowd than, say, the early 2000s or earlier), of attendees don’t really get much of an insider look at the higher level of working a convention. This is something that needs a lot more transparency. Sometimes that’s an issue with getting more people to put the word out, though in this one it seems more like getting the board NOT to succumb to paranoia and fear of communication.

    Moreover, especially in light of the recent posts regarding katsucon and past issues with other cons outside furry, the issues you spoke of absolutely are prevalent everywhere these days. Not sure how it is elsewhere, but I don’t recall this blatant disregard for our con hotels being quite as bad even ten years ago… You’d hear about the odd issue, but usually it was something relatively legitimate, or just a stupid accident, rather than the blatant acts we see lately.

    I honestly would like to see more awareness brought to the community as a whole… Perhaps something where the chairs or ‘faces’ behind several of the cons get together to put a big word out to the fandom at large that we need to not put up with this kind of activity. Not that it will help much probably, but it would be something, at least.

    I hate to get on the ‘ban the troublemakers!’ bandwagon, because furry in general has always been about being inclusive and accepting… In the 15 or so years I’ve been going to the cons and such as a whole, from day one that was the message I got. But when it comes right down to it, ruining the chance for a unique experience like a convention for the sake of one, or even a handful of people’s misbehavior or inability to act acceptably in polite society is just not on the books.

    Beyond that, I think the post mortem illustrates the lack of faith they had in your ability. I have to ask, if they trusted you to handle your duties so little, why they had brought you in for it in the first place? That kind of position needs and deserves extreme trust. It’s one thing to corral someone that’s gone ‘off the ranch’ as it were, had you been banning people left and right or something. It’s entirely different to drop the opinions of someone whose entire position revolves around interfacing with the physical team implementing an event, out of hand.

    The information there, while suitably vague on direct references as necessity demands, brings up some REALLY good points of discussion that not only new, but more well-established events would do well to discuss amongst themselves.

    Once again, thanks for your work, both in writing these, and in everything you did to try to turn things around for your attendees.

  2. Hey — this comment has nothing to do with this specific post on your blog (feel free to delete it). I just wanted to say that I just bought your Bonds of Silver, Bonds of Gold book and really enjoyed it. I didn’t see an e-mail address for you anywhere so I made an account here to leave you a message. Not sure where you like your feedback. I encourage people to e-mail me, but hey, whatever works for you! ;-)
    Best wishes,
    Gre7g

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