Pantheacon 2017 is rapidly approaching and I’m busy getting my sessions ready for sharing. This year I have the pleasure of presenting two sessions – Advancing Devotional Practice on Saturday morning and Beginning Devotional Practice on Sunday morning. (They aren’t related to one another; I just happened to give them very similar names without thinking it through.) Beginning Devotional Practice is a brand new session and I’m excited to take it for a walk. In the past I’ve managed to present my PCon sessions locally to work out the bugs and to give my regional community a taste of what they can expect at Pantheacon but I wasn’t able to secure classroom space this year. Next year!!
It takes me several months to get ready for an event; that’s one of the reasons that I don’t travel to present very frequently. Calls for programming submissions began about nine months ago; once I chose my submissions and sent them off, I began revising any existing material and writing new work. I aim to have an outline of new material finished by fall so I can begin polishing it – if I have been accepted as a presenter. Although I’ve been granted the opportunity to present at PCon for the past few years not every session I’ve proposed has been accepted (it’s been about 50/50 for me). Notes for rejected proposals are set aside for use at a later date and notes for accepted proposals are given priority. I spend the winter organizing what I want to say and making a Powerpoint slide show with visuals if the session needs one. In January I like to do a local presentation to see how everything fits together. I’ll use that experience to make changes to the session so that it’s as good as I can make it by the time I’m ready to leave for PCon. Before I leave I’ll print my notes and spend plenty of time reviewing them and making last minute adjustments before my session. Before the convention even ends I’m thinking about next year’s proposals. As you can see, it really does take me a whole year to get ready for just one 90 minute presentation.
I’m fortunate to be one of those people who really likes speaking in front of crowds. I did a lot of school and community theater as a teenager/young adult and I got over stage fright pretty quickly. I also really love teaching and sharing information with people – perhaps because I also love learning.
Of course, preparing my session(s) is only one part of getting ready for Pantheacon or another event. I also have to arrange for time away from my jobs, buy a plane ticket, make hotel reservations, and save up lots of money for food and other travel expenses. Sometimes I think about taking a year or two off from presenting and just focusing on writing or on saving money for something major (like moving to a state with Medicaid expansion) but it’s just been a pipe dream so far. I love presenting; I love teaching. I’ve gotten to know some amazing people by going to events like PCon. Although I’m happy speaking in front of people, I have some social anxiety – and so do many other people at these events. I certainly can’t say whether attending Pantheacon or Paganicon or Many Gods West or the Esoteric Book Conference or other similarly flavored events would be worth it for you, but if you’ve ever considered it I’d definitely suggest giving it a shot. Only by trying it will you actually know whether the outcomes will be worth it. Taking that risk has been more than worth it for me.
Curious about what other excellent things are happening at Pantheacon 2017? Check out their programming schedule. I’ll be selling copies of Walking the Heartroad and Worshiping Loki (full and half price editions). I’ll also have some time blocked out just to do readings, so I’ll keep everyone updated about it. Please come and say hi; if it helps, you can be pretty sure that I, too, am a little panicky inside.