At the end of Midwest FurFest, I told myself I’d get a writing track con report out within 48 hours. I might have succeeded at that if it hadn’t been for the untimely and unfortunate death of my longtime friend and fellow MFF-staffer, QuasiSkunk, which threw my mind into a tailspin for a time, though at this point I have little excuse for it taking me a month. At least I am doing better than last year, which ended up taking half a year.
Like last year, the writing community came through with both panelists and panel ideas, proving once again that we have plenty of depth in the field of potential writing panelists, enough to alleviate any concern about having enough panelists if a few key people are unable to attend. Most panels drew reasonably good attendance, at least the ones I attended or peeked in on, which was most of them although I missed a few. A 10am panel was the most lightly attended I saw, probably due to the time, but the Transformation panel was the surprise of the weekend, filling the room to overcrowding despite being at 11am on Sunday.
Some things didn’t go as hoped during the planning and scheduling. Due to an email mixup I missed out on reviewing any draft schedules and had to play catchup after the schedules had gone live. There were a couple of instances of panels scheduled opposite other panels and splitting the potential audience. Also, the panels were in six different rooms, and one panel that had requested a projector was in a room that didn’t have one. I will continue asking to have one room assigned to the writing track for the duration of the convention, which hopefully will be easier if Dealers Den and Artists Alley move to the convention center, thus freeing up more space. I would also advocate this “one room” approach for any other programming tracks with enough panels that could use the same size panel room. On the plus side, I had requested 27 panels, expecting that a few would be cut due to space and scheduling limitations, and was pleasantly surprised that all 27 made it onto the schedule, so Kudos to the programming team for that. No one has given me a strict upper bound on how many panels the writing track can have; my operating assumption has been what I could fit in one room as discussed above.
I will be sending out a note to panelists asking for feedback on the planning process, including the breakdown of the subject area into panels, and the process of assigning panelists. My objective is to specify enough to insure all the most important topics are covered, with enough room left over to accommodate requests that come in from the field. Finally, it would be nice to know if there’s someone ready and willing to take over the writing track if for any reason I am unable to continue as track lead.
A big thank you to the everyone who made the writing track a success at MFF 2016. This includes Kodi and the rest of the programming staff, MFF leadership and senior staff, the operations staff who provided the audiovisual equipment and otherwise got the rooms in order before so problems never arose in the first place, the hotel staff and liaisons, the security staff who provided volunteers to check badges for the adults-only panels. I’d especially like to thank all of the panelists who shared their expertise, everyone who attended the panels and made it worth our while. I look forward to putting on another excellent writing track at Midwest FurFest 2017.