April 1, 2012

How to Know When It's Time to Quit

Today, guest blogger Tera Fulbright will address getting out of running conventions.  This topic is one that is “near and dear” to my heart.  If you organize conventions, I encourage you to get out of the business before you lose your friends and sanity.

Thanks Tera!
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I recently read a great post by David B Coe on “The Writing life: when do you give up?   He wrote one of the best answers I have ever read: “No, the time to quit is when you don’t feel anything anymore.”

I think this applies to every activity/commitment/adventure you do in life.  But it is particularly true in conrunning.   According to my resume, I ran or helped run cons from 1996 to 2009.  That’s 13 years.  Thirteen years where I ran cons, ran programming, talked to guests or arranged special events. 
Now, there are people out there that have been running cons 20+, 30+ or more.  But I think that one characteristic that those who still organize conventions share is a passion for the job.

When you run a convention, you live and breathe that con for at least 13-14 months of your life, if not more.  Between the setup, the actual con, and the post-con, you are constantly dealing with several of aspects of the business of the convention.
I made the decision to stop being involved when I no longer cared about the success or failure of the convention.  I didn’t care if the attendees or the guests had fun.  I knew then it was time to get out, so I quit.  Since then, I’ve helped… I’ve answered questions… but I haven’t “run” them.

I think it is important to have a passion for this type of volunteer work.  You have to want it; for most of us, we don’t get paid to run cons.  It is a time commitment we give as volunteers.  And as con organizers, one of things we must be aware of is how much time and energy it takes to run a con.  It can take a lot out of you, particularly if you, which I suspect most of you reading this are, also work a full-time job/have families/etc.  Sometimes, we have to realize that we can’t do it all and give up something.  
Sometimes, that’s con running.  When running cons takes the place of your family, your friends, your job or any other aspect of your life, then it is time to take a close look at why you are doing it.  When you no longer care if the attendee can find the panel room they are looking for, or if the guest has eaten that day;  when you no longer care if the art show artwork gets sent back to the artists or if the dealers had a good weekend, it’s time to stop.

Realizing that you no longer have a passion for something can be a painful experience.   But then, you can do what the rest of us do… offer advice to the new folks who have the passion.  And maybe, just maybe, they can run a little longer than you did.
Please note the switch back and forth between ‘you’ and ‘we’ … once a con runner, always a con runner?

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