If I had to tell you who on earth decides to undertake event coordination as an avocation, you know, for funsies, I’d break it down into two types of people.
The person in it for themselves.
The person in it for the community.
Now, that isn’t to say that the person more focused on the community is some sort of community saint but just that the focus is more on community than it is on the self.
It’s also not to say that the person ‘in it for themselves’ is some sort of villain, it’s just that the reason they got into it was for themselves and their interest.
Either effort works if it pulls together a successful event.
However, you get it done – get – it – done.
That’s how I see it.
They are different personality types but both can be effective and offer something unique and indeed powerful in the creation of an event.
As an example –
The person who comes at it from a self-perspective could an artist looking for an outlet for their art. There’s no place to show or sell so they create an event to do both. In doing this they realize that they could make it a much better and better attended event if they include other artists. So, it started out for them, and it grew.
I have TOTALLY done that. I have created several book events over the years for that very purpose – to help me sell books. In doing it though I realized that 1. I am not a draw and 2. There are a lot of folks in the same boat as me who need help selling their books.
Events were born.
Someone coming at it from a community perspective may have done the same thing, seen a need, and addressed it. But they also may have overlooked it because, in this example, I had to sorta be ‘boots on the ground’ to see that there was a need. There are times though when that need to figure something out for yourself though is exactly what is needed. It’s the perspective and how you use it. Had I created an event that was just Chris Sells Books and had it be just that then cool, fine, it is what it is. People do that all the time and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s how you market it and how you approach it and, really, how much of a draw you are. To me though, the wiser move is to surround yourself with other people so that it’s a bigger event, bigger draw, and better chance to pull in people.
Then there’s the other sort of mindset – the community mindset.
So here you do look out and see that there is a gap and decide to plug it. You see that there’s a need and you fill it. Many of these will come in the form of giving events where, say, there is a need for school supplies for local kids and so you create an event that helps get them the supplies they need so desperately. Or, as happened frequently in Flint, you see that people need clean drinking water, so you organize an event to give out water. Your focus is on the community first and filling a need. A lot of these events are put together by organizations like non-profits who exist to serve community needs. Or it’s a church, or even a business that puts these events on. There’s not a lot of us out there that put events on as a hobby.
When I had the first lightning bolt of inspiration for our horror convention we started here in Flint it was when I thought back to the first two conventions I went to that stuck with me, two horror conventions. From there I had been to other cons, comic cons, but the horror ones really made the deep impact and I asked myself – why not here? Why not us?
I had never put a convention on.
I had no idea how to do it.
I knew I needed money, and space, after that, it was all guess work.
Well, I needed one other thing – friends.
I put together a team of friends and that’s how and why it worked. Because I trusted and leaned on friends that wanted to see the same thing that I did – a horror convention in Flint. We came to it for different reasons, with different driving forces, but we moved forward together.
That was the key.
I saw a need – a convention – and we worked to fill it.
This wasn’t about me, or my ego.
It wasn’t about me meeting celebrities.
It was about being that kid who went to those cons and had those amazing experiences.
I wanted to share that.
I wanted to nurture that.
As we moved forward it also became about creating and fostering a community of horror creatives and supporting what they did.
Now, did we get something out of all of it?
Of course, we got friendships, partnerships, relationships, and the joy of putting on something successful.
None of that was WHY we started doing it or kept doing it though.
That’s the key.
There are a lot of ways to put a show together and reasons to do it and all of them are valuable and viable if the show comes first. If, in the end, the people get what you were promising.
That’s the key.
It’s when you step out from behind the curtain and have the spotlight moved to you that things start to get a little dodgy. It’s when you separate yourself from the rest of the group putting these shows together that you start to look a little rough around the edges.
It’s a thankless job, putting these things on, it really is, because unless you do it as a vocation then it can wear on you. The thing is though that no one asked you to do this, not really. No one demanded you do this. And if it’s too much, you can step down or step aside. You can let things proceed without you.
The more you make it about you though, the less special it feels in the end.
The more it feels like this really was about you and now you want credit for it.
Look what I did for all of you. LOOK!
And sure, it is great to be and feel appreciated. But once you demand it and expect it, it takes away from it. It feels like you did it for the glory in the first place. And cool, you do you, but don’t force yourself into the role of martyr and then be disappointed when people don’t weep for you.
That is their nature.
The hope, MY hope, is that when we’re gone someone will be inspired and want to take up that torch and create something of their own. Something that fills a gap they see that needs filling.
For us, we evolve as we need to, change as we have to, but understand that a day will come when the tents come down. We all have other stuff going on and will move on, and eventually the sadness of not doing shows will pass.
If we made it about us though, if I made it about me at the end, I don’t think I’d wanna see how very few people would miss me and what we do. Because even the masses know that, if it wasn’t about them then why the heck did we do it in the first place?
Better to be missed, than dismissed.
Better to stand smiling from the wings than sweating on the stage.
Sometimes, the spotlight isn’t for you.