Realities of Running a Convention Vol 3

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Good leaders need a good pair of bollocks

Democracy is good for a country, not a convention.

I guess with the last piece I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger. The con committee losing their direction, a convenor losing their faith, the fate of friendships in the balance, and what will become of the con?

Well, lets go back in time, back to the beginning.

The con begins as an idea. An idea has to be shared so it becomes an idea between two, three, maybe up to five people, often very quickly. It should be worked out just as quickly who are the primary motivators, who are the ones with the seed germinating in their minds. If there is a clear director then it is natural they be convenor. But why need it be just one director, one convenor? In fact, get rid of that word…convenor. Sure, it’s needed for the formal process of the convention, but it is a word misleading to the role of who must hold the reigns.

A good con needs directors, they who are to hold the overall vision so to allow individuals to concentrate on their turf, individuals who make up a crew, a team, a collective. Yes, get rid of that word committee. Yes, under the constitutional rules and stuff it is called a “committee”. But words have power. People call it a committee so they act like a committee. And committees allow a lot of petty, bureaucratic, political bullshit to go on because the structure just appeals to that side of out natures. So stop being a committee and start being a collective, a team, a crew.

And frankly, if you can’t get out of the mindset of committee game playing then you are very likely indeed to be more of a hindrance to the running of a con and often the second most likely reason the con sucks. But some like the set up. And those who like the setup are those who like there being a convenor, a single person, who they think they tell what to do, but still be willing to take final responsibility, I mean fall, because really those committee members are gutless wonders.

When the convenor is the person with the drive and vision and ability to direct their fellow committee members (and yes, they also need a committee who trust their convenor) then the con has a firm foundation, something every great con must have. If the vision is a joint one then the convenor should be a shared position. Who’s in charge should be made clear, whether it be one person or two or three, it should be made clear to the rest of the committee formed around them and to the con going fan base. And yes, that really does matter.

I know, it sounds pretty basic, even obvious. But you might be surprised how often those who first come up with doing a convention get someone else to be convenor, because they don’t have the courage to face their peers in a do or die fashion, and then proceed to undermine the very person they put at the head of the meeting table. And it seems to always turn to shit.

And so we’re back at the cliffhanger as to how this dysfunctional committee proceeds while holding onto all their petty angst?

And the answer is easy; they bring in more committee members. Hazzah!

And amazingly, those new, enthusiastic committee members, often to fill needed places of responsibility, or later in developments to do other committee member’s chores (details of that for another time), are not aware of the squabbling, the recalcitrant activity, the conflicts of ideas and even the conflict of interests (another to deal with later) and are especially misled on the level of work that is expected of them. That is until they are well entrenched in the committee process and feel it’s too late to back out, regretting they got involved and harbouring a hidden resentment for the sod who pulled them in, which is usually the convenor because they want more numbers on their side to deal with the friends who are trying to block vote them out of the con they thought they were going to run.

Yes, my dear friend, you now can envision yourself in this suffocating jungle of petty bullshit, angst monkeys shitting from vines, birds squawking continual inanities, dead fish of special projects floating by in the stagnant stream of ambitious dreams, the hot steamy atmosphere of selfishness blocking your pores as you lay on the hot, damp and dirty convention floor and whisper to yourself, “The bollocks…the bollocks.”

Oh, and if you do hold onto some petty angst while on a con committee then you really should see what it is in your personal life that needs addressing. I suggest professional help.

This document written by Robin Pen and located at This page reprinted with his permission.