Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Conference Coordinator Meltdown

by Annette Dashofy

Too much caffeine, not enough sleep, and a last minute schedule shuffle all add up to conference coordinator meltdown.

Truthfully, that sounds worse than it is.

Let’s back up. Over at my Writing, etc. blog, I’ve been posting daily about the behind-the-scenes “adventures” of a conference coordinator. Namely, me. And since I’m beyond exhausted, I’m continuing the tale here rather than think up something else. To catch you up, on Monday, one of my speakers cancelled due to a family emergency. It wasn’t anything she could help. She’s a caregiver to a chronically ill father-in-law. I understand this. I know how it goes. You can’t stop living your life or making plans, but you always know at some point you may have to drop everything.

Such is the case with Bobbi Carducci. Send her some prayers and supportive energy. She needs it right now.

Anyhow, I spent much of the day Monday scrambling to fill the void and by Monday night, I had a plan, but no definite replies from those I’d asked to help.

Along comes Tuesday morning. I open my email to find messages from all those I’d contacted the previous day. And everyone agreed with my plan.


Next, the schedule had to be revised. The hotel needed to be contacted to make meeting room changes. My team members had to do some scrambling, too. A conference is a bit like a house of cards. Maybe not that fragile, but everything is connected. When one thing gets moved around, it affects several committees’ plans. I gave Vickie a gift by freeing up an agent for more appointments, but I created more work for Sheryl by moving workshops around and adding a new one after she had all her moderators lined up.

Anyhow, my dear friend John Lamb is picking up the slack and doing an additional workshop on publicity and Nate Hardy has earned a hug by agreeing to move his workshop to a different timeslot. Thankfully Vickie was able to move his agent appointment so free him up to do this.

Like I said, everything is connected.

So with the conference back on course, why am I ready to melt down?

I don’t mean “meltdown” as in nuclear. I mean it more like water on the wicked witch. I’m tired. I need a nap. I’m feeling a little mushy around the edges.

After all, this thing begins TOMORROW! Ack! Yep, the Thursday Fiction Intensive kicks off at 9AM tomorrow morning. Not only am I not packed, I haven’t even picked up my dress for the keynote dinner from the dry cleaners yet. I also need to pick up the programs at the printers. Of course, the programs are WRONG because of the schedule re-do. Oh, well.

I hope to see some of you there. But if I’m snoozing in a corner, DO NOT WAKE ME.


Tory said...

Good luck, Annette, it will go fine! (Or at least as God intended, which is sometimes better.)

Do a little restorative yoga before you go to bed tonight, so you get a good night's sleep, and try to HAVE A GOOD TIME!

Best of luck,

Annette said...

Tory, have you ever used Bach's Rescue Remedy? Wonderful stuff. But I'm almost out of it and have been using it sparingly. Last night I put almost a whole dropper full in a glass of water and slept better than I had in weeks.

I just hope I have enough to get me through the weekend.

PatRemick said...

Just think Annette, in a few days, it all will be nothing more than a wonderful memory!! And imagine how grateful all the attendess are going to be for your work!
Have some fun, too!

Jennie Bentley said...

Gosh, Annette... take care of yourself, OK? A dead conference coordinator won't do anyone much good. And remember, by Monday it'll all be over!

Annette said...

LOL, Jennie. I'm a long way from dead (although I did spot some buzzards circling the house the other day...hmmm...)

Joyce said...

You're doing a great job, Annette. It's going to be a great conference!

Anonymous said...

Annette, bby, the hard part of almost over. Conference organization is a lot like childbirth. Once it gets tarted, there's no stopping it, and you end up with something wonderful. You've earned the wonderful!

Annette said...

I like that analogy, Nancy. Except I don't have to save for its college education for the next 18 years. Now THERE'S a bright spot I hadn't considered before!

Joyce, after all this, I'm sooo looking forward to Bouchercon where I don't have to do anything except show up!

Kathy Sweeney said...

Deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

It'll be great - I'll be there to set up books Friday, so if you want me to come early to help you with something else, just let me know.


P.S. A DRESS? Unless you want to see something with seashells and Stone Harbor on it, I'll be in pants.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Good luck, Annette,

I wish I could be there, because I know it will be fabulous. Alas, it's not in the cards.

Annette said...

Oh, but Kathy, this dress was the buy of the century. I paid $3 for it at a yard sale last summer. And it was one of the rich neighborhood yard sales. Sweet.

Thanks, Will. We'll miss you.