I’m in Minnesota, counting down to CONvergence, which promises to be an utterly charming and awesome event. And I will not open myself up to so much work next year, assuming that they invite me back. (Seventeen things over four days, when I had honestly been expecting 6. That’s normal for a con, at least for me historically.)

I am an introvert. (Big surprise there, for anyone who knows me.)

At the same time, I am a player on a stage, and I have a lot of experience with that sort of thing, going back a long time of needing to assume masks for a variety of reasons. Most of them were unpleasant reasons, at that, but this is a con, and I simply need to be charming and massively extroverted for a few days.

Last time I did this was at Rose City Comic Con in 2018 (I think). Several of us had a single booth, with a lot of books for sale, organized by genre. The others with me did not have the ability to activate extrovert mode, so I took it on as a persona I call Carnival Barker.

Literally, standing at the corner and making eye contact with folks, then adding banter and charm to get them to step into the booth and look around. Exactly what a Carnival Barker does, without the freak show behind him. (No comments on my books, thank you. Heh.)

I did that for several days. To do it, I had to turn off the writer for that same period. Different mask. Different person.

Guess what, I’m back. We came into Minnesota a week early, which would have allowed us to see a lot of Fabulous Publisher Babe™’s family, except that COVID rippled through those families, so they isolated and we’ve stayed away.

I have managed to meet up with a few folks, having lunch with a fellow writer local I’ve never met IRL on Monday, and dinner with an old co-worker from Seattle last night. One of my online GMs lives not far away, and we’ll be doing lunch today.

With any luck, the guy who was the inspiration behind Pizzafarmer will be available later today for a beer. (Story #1 was in Nuns with Guns. Story #4 will be in Boundary Shock Quarterly 021 in the winter. I’ll publish 1-3 at the same time.) He lives around here somewhere (I don’t know MN geography all that well) and we’ve been emailing back and forth.

But I woke up this morning bouncy. That’s the extrovert coming to life. Getting ready to be ON for several days. Did manage to write some more on the second Marrakesh novel (Military Space Adventure along the lines of TOS or TNG, without the Epic Space Opera elements. More Mission-on-the-week sort of thing here) and hopefully will have words over the next day or so, before we move from the suburbs to downtown for the Con hotel.

Then I will be fully subsumed by the Barker, and off to the races.

I’ve warned everyone who would listen. And the Babe™ was at RCCC, so she saw it happen and understands me well enough to not be concerned that she’ll be sleeping with something of a stranger for a few days.

It happens. I am a creature of identity. Identities, plural, honestly.

I went into August understanding that I would be writing less. WAY less. Instead of my usual upper bound of 120,000 words, I have set it to 80,000 this month. And will stop cold if I actually manage to get there, what with a full week gap in the month.

That is the streak-breaking number, where I’m not even to Pulp Speed One, which I have managed since May 2018. Intentionally.

I won’t call it a vacation, but I’m taking time away from words. And doing odd projects instead. Lyrics for the rock opera. Planning for the Corsac Fox kickstarter in the winter. Being someone else.

I’m bouncy this morning, and it’s not the (yucky) coffee kicking in. Less than I usually drink back home, as a matter of fact.

Hopefully, some of you will be at the con. I have a signing on Friday around lunch, so bring something that needs a signature. Then I have panels pretty much beginning to end, so I will have almost no free time to just hang out.

Next year, with luck and they bring me back, folks will understand that my schedule is not under my control. And hopefully I’ll be doing less.

This year, I need to make them look good. And me.

And have fun.

But I gotta extrovert pretty damned hard for a week to do it.

Y’all ready for the ride?