So, I’ll be honest. I haven’t been writing all that much lately. But that is less to do with writing and more to do with being REALLY busy.
There are basically two parts of the year in which everything is RUN RUN RUN and I have more projects and deadlines piled up than I know what to do with them. The lesser of these two happens in the fall, usually heating up around October and lasting to January. Between choir getting started after summer break (which also means regular weekend gigs for Encore), football (no, it’s not an “obligation” but it DOES take up time!), bracing the house/yard for winter, holiday shopping/hosting, holiday travel, finishing the year’s writing projects, and whatever other weirdness crops up, it’s a hectic time.
But that is a cakewalk compared to the April-to-mid-July period.
There are two major events that happen, thankfully almost 2 months apart, but the prep work for each is brutal and combining them is excruciating. In the best possible way, of course. After all, both are things I absolutely LOVE.
They just take up time and brainspace.
The first is the Twin Cities Women’s Choir big year-end gala concert called Divas & Desserts. This is a massive production of 3 separate nights of shows, 2 full silent auctions, and feeding the guests donated desserts from all over the region. That would be enough, just singing in 3 shows in one long weekend, but that’s not all I do. I also organize a special project for the choir which comes due just before the concert, I help set up the auctions and work them after each show, and I also do ANOTHER special project after the concerts to be part of the year-end celebration for the choir.
The first project I can’t really talk about, but the auction work is 2-3 days of hauling stuff to the location, setting up tables, arranging items, and otherwise being helpful to the people in charge. And then each night after the performance, I bolt offstage and help people check out the items they’ve won either as a runner (going to find whatever-it-is and bringing it to the winner) or a cashier. I also end up helping with the rest of the nightly cleanup because I’ve always got energy and I love the choir!
The third special project is something else entirely. For the last 2 years, I’ve helped coordinate a year-end gift/prank/in-joke/walk-of-memories for the choir in the form of a medley. Basically, I take all the songs we’ve sung that year and I string them together into one occasionally hilarious train of music. Sarah is the real wizard behind it, as I can craft the general shape, but she’s the one who has to go ahead and score it, complete with transposing it into the same key and a consistent rhythm. We then grab some friends from various sections in the choir and perform it at the year-end party.
Here’s the first one I ever did (I think last year’s was better and this year’s is better still, but you get the idea!):
So, basically, from now until mid-May, my brain is mostly choir, either singing, writing, practicing, performing, hauling, cleaning, and various other volunteering.
But that’s not all that’s going on, of course. That would be enough for any reasonable person, but I never claimed to be reasonable and I never, ever will.
I have a much better time having fun!
Because the second thing is CONvergence!
CONvergence is my home convention, which I have attended since somewhere around 2009/2010 and love intensely. It’s been my gateway into the convention community and also the wider community of geeks and nerds outside just the people who are my friends. I can honestly say that my whole world is richer for the people I’ve met, the new fandoms I’ve been introduced to, the art I’ve gotten to see and experience. Nerds are AWESOME.
Anyway, CONvergence in the past has usually meant gearing up to some kind of cosplay with various people. And, trust me, if you’ve never tried to make a cosplay from scratch, it is NOT easy. And I’m not overly talented in crafts projects to start with, but fortunately I hang out with awesome people who are, which is how we’ve done as well as we have. So the last few years, the run-up to CONvergence was a frantic time of buying material or wigs, trying to figure out details, and many, many fittings. Last year we actually went to a professional to help us out and what she made us was EPIC. Check out her stuff at her website: Rae Dreamstitcher
Anyway, besides cosplay and hanging out and generally being awesome nerds, Sarah and I also perform as Candles Enough at CONvergence. I’ll put the video from that gig up on YouTube at some point, but that means that June is basically spent, when Sarah and I aren’t figuring out how to make crafts work, learning new songs and perfecting new parodies. And while Sarah can play almost anything I throw at her on the guitar, it doesn’t make it easy on either of us!
All that aside, there’s a new wrinkle in this year’s run-up to CONvergence because I have started volunteering heavily with one of the departments that makes the convention run, and there has been a LOT to do in the off-season, which only gets more intense as we get closer. Monthly meetings, special projects, learning procedures, assisting some amazing people with some genuinely complicated stuff — there’s no end to what needs to be done. CONvergence isn’t just a party; it’s basically a temporary small town brought together for 4 days, and it needs more infrastructure than an outsider would imagine to keep it running smoothly.
I’ve been trying to help with it as much as I can, but that means that I’ve got brainpower running in new directions when I’m still running in all the normal ones!
All of which is kind of a long way of saying that things are going to get hectic for me soon, more than they are right now. And I legitimately don’t know when I’ll find time to post weekly or if I’ll even try. Certainly there won’t be a thing from me over the TCWC concert weekend. I’ll do my best to put at least SOMETHING up on the site every week until stuff calms down in mid-July, but no promises about length or depth of content.
I’m not holding myself accountable to do any more than I can reasonably do every day. Which means if I don’t get a chapter written, or I don’t get a blog post up, or I don’t submit a story to a new magazine, I’m trying not to blame myself for it. I have a lot of things in the air, and I love and cherish all of them. I have to give myself permission to put some things on hold, or set them down for a time, so I can keep everything else in balance. And while sometimes writing is a relief from all this, sometimes it adds its own weight to the pile.
So I’m being forgiving and gentle with myself if I’m not meeting my own standards for stuff that doesn’t impact others. If I go a week without writing, that’s okay. As long as that week was spent helping out the TCWC or CONvergence or, you know, my actual friends and family.
But you should see my current to-do list. It’s NUTS.
Even so, it’s all a labor of love. Many loves, different loves, labors I’ve chosen to take on because of what they have given back to me. I’m not one bit sorry for being busy, even if it costs me a month of writing.
Because while this busy season is draining and exhausting and frantic, it is also when I am the most engaged in the world outside my head. It is when I get to be not me-the-writer but me-the-singer. Me-the-sister-in-song. Me-the-out-and-out-nerd. Me-the-reliable-helper. Me-the-extra-shoulder-to-push-the-wheel-forward. This is when I get to support two different and almost completely non-overlapping communities which have filled my life with joy. This is when I get to stand up and give some sweat and strength to people and organizations who deserve them.
To me, even though I’m singing in the concert, the real value comes from supporting the choir before and after and in between; it’s not about performing, but serving. I am grateful for the Twin Cities Women’s Choir every single day of my life. At Divas, and through special projects like the medley, I get to repay the kindness and express my gratitude by giving all that I can.
To me, even though I’m having fun at the convention, the real value is in working and supporting others at the convention so they can have even more fun in a safe and respectful environment. I am grateful for the friends and fandoms and also the support and trust of the nerd community at every turn. So at CONvergence, I get to pay that trust and support and respect and inclusiveness forward so all other nerds have a home, too.
So, yeah. I am the best kind of busy right now. I look forward to it all year, and I relish every minute of the craziness as it unfolds.
(And I will sleep sooooooooo much when it is all over…)
Forgive me if I drop off the map for a while. I’m out on the roads that carried me this far, making them wider and smoother for everyone else who is looking for them.
You’re welcome to join us.