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Post-Con Neuroses

This weekend I had the honor of being Toastmaster at ConFusion. This was one of my best convention experiences ever … and in a few days, I’ll be able to focus on what an epic time I had. But first I need to get through what I think of as my post-con neurotic phase.

I’ve talked before about being an introvert. When I do a convention, it’s in some ways a performance. That doesn’t mean there’s anything deceptive or dishonest, but I’m basically playing Jim C. Hines, Extroverted Author. It’s a great deal of fun, but it also uses up a fair amount of energy. One thing I’ve noticed is that it requires me to turn down some of my internal filters and censors.

And that’s what leads to comments like the one I made during opening ceremonies where I introduced one guest who had been attending since about 1980, and remarked, “Wow … I was only six years old.” Now here’s a peek inside Jim’s brain:

Wait, why did I say that? That wasn’t in my script of jokes. I was trying to point out that this person has a great history with the con, but I basically announced, “Hey, they’re old!” That’s kind of a dickish thing to say. Have I just alienated our guest of honor or made them uncomfortable? What the hell, man?

This sort of thing doesn’t usually bother me too much while I’m at the con and “on.” It’s afterward, when I’m overtired and heading back to the real world, that it starts to get to me. I think back to Sunday afternoon when Sarah Zettel asked me to strike a pose, so of course I showed off the belly and gave my best hip-thrusting pose as I left the panel … which sent a familiar cramp of pain up the back muscles, eliciting a shout of, “Son of a bitch, that hurt!”

Why did I say that? I excised the word “bitch” from my vocabulary more than a decade ago! And it didn’t even hurt that bad; just a tight muscle from sitting in panel chairs all day. Way to go, Jim — you’ve just convinced those people who said you were out of shape that they’re right, because you can’t even do one little hip-thrust without whining about it.

Toastmaster with Epic HatThere were a few other such instances. They get stuck in my head for several days after the con, the little things that I’m 99% certain nobody else noticed or really cared about. Sure, I flubbed a joke in opening ceremonies, but overall I had a great deal of fun introducing our line-up of awesome guests, and all of the feedback I received afterward was positive.

I really did have an incredibly good time. I’ll try to do a more traditional write-up, by the end of which you’ll all be rather jealous. There was the author D&D game, the dessert reception, my guest star role on Tom Smith’s Rocky Horror Muppet Show … I had an absolute blast.

But after almost a decade of conventions, I also know that I overthink. I borderline obsess. And then, once I’ve caught up on sleep and gotten back to my real life, I get over it. But that day or two of post-con obsession is annoying. And I’m a little curious if I’m the only one who does this…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


Jan. 23rd, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
Ouch. But I think that illustrates part of what's beneath the worry. Even though I know 99% of the folks at the con were probably fine with everything, there's always the chance... I'm sorry to hear that things went so badly for you and your former friend.

As for the hip thrust, just remind me to stretch first :-)
Jan. 23rd, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
The friend thing was rough, I'll admit. (And brought back all those "no one will like me" issues from my youth. Sigh.) But I'm starting to get past it.

The truth is, we all say stupid stuff from time to time. If we like people, we forgive them for it--and don't expect perfection from them (especially since we are unlikely to be able to pull it off ourselves).

And a few years out, it is pretty clear that the issue was a lot less what I said, than her particular head-space at the time.

So these days, I'm taking more of the "Can't please all of the people all of the time," approach, and hoping that when I put my foot in my mouth (and I WILL), that most folks just smile and say, "Oh that Deb. What a nut."


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