I haven't done a proper convention report in years, and I see no point in breaking that streak now. Still, I'm back from Penguicon and there is something I'd like to relate.
This year I did something completely new and different, both for me and for the event -- I was the Toastmaster. Instead of hanging out at my booth and doing panels, I dressed to the nines and took responsibility for emceeing a few events. Opening Ceremonies, The Roast, the M.C. Frontalot Concert, the Masquerade, and the Child's Play Charity Auction all saw me dressed in a tuxedo. For the closing ceremonies my tux was already packed, because I was bound very shortly for the airport.
The result? I was highly visible to a small subset of the folks at the show (including John Scalzi, who took the photo to the right), and I offloaded a huge burden from a group of people in ConCom for whom public speaking is something to be avoided. I poured quite a bit of energy into my performances in order to ensure that these events were tightly-paced and upbeat (not that Mr. Frontalot needed any help in that regard) and through it all I had a fantastic time.
The other result is that a lot of people who expected to see me at my booth couldn't find me. I spent a little time there, but not nearly as much as I have in years past. This in turn meant that I didn't sell as much stuff as usual (around 55% of last year), which means the show wasn't a big moneymaker for me. This, however, is exactly what I signed up for.
The job of "Toastmaster" is less a "Guest of Honor" gig, and more of a last-minute promotion to ConCom. It's a service to the attendees and the event. It's something that I felt Penguicon could benefit from, and which I could learn from.
I like learning things.
If I didn't learn anything else, I learned that I probably have about one Toastmaster gig in me per year, no more. I might be able to emcee a masquerade or two beyond that, but whew! I'm exhausted. Also, I miss sitting at my booth sketching in books and capturing the sweet, sweet custom of my many wealthy, intelligent, taste-making patrons. That's exhausting too, but in a different way. A way in which at the end of the day I can collapse in a heap onto a pile of crinkly-soft, greenish-grey, oh-so-filthy lucre.
But I have no regrets. If I were in this for the money, I'd be in something else instead.