I just realized that I mentioned this on Twitter over a week ago, and it's been on a lot of the gaming sites, but I never actually carved out a little hunk of blog-o-state to mention…
I am giving the inaugural keynote address to PAX East in Boston on March 26th.
I've been working on my keynote, which involves throwing away about five words for every one I keep, every day for a couple weeks. I know I'm getting close to having a zero draft to start rewriting and perfecting, because my brain's been waking me up several times a night for the last five or six days to give me a great idea that can go into one section or another.
When Robert Khoo offered me the keynote, my first thought was, "No fucking way. The 2007 PAX Prime keynote was the best speech I've ever given in my life. There is no way I can top that, or even equal it."
"I need to think about it for a couple of days," is what I said, though. I mean, it would have been silly to just pass on it without even trying to come up with something, right?
So the first thing I did was accept that the 2007 Prime address was a perfect storm of timing and delivery and hard work. I was never going to top that, so I wasn't even going to try. If I did this keynote – the inaugural keynote for PAX East, no less – I would just have to give it permission to be its own thing, and accept that the 2007 keynote is something awesome that's in the background.
That simple acceptance took a lot of weight off of my shoulders, and an idea began to come together. I remember walking out into the back yard that afternoon, where Anne was playing with our dog. "I can totally do this," I said.
"Well, thanks, but I think I have it covered," she said, tossing this thing that started life as a knotted rope toward the back wall for our dog to chase.
"Oh. Right. I forgot that you weren't part of the conversation I was having in my head. I mean, I can totally do this keynote. I have an idea."
In my head, I heard Captain Sternn say, "Take it easy, Charlie. I've got an angle…" and hoped that the ultimate conclusion of my plans would be a little less … explosive.
I told her what I wanted to do with my keynote, then I got on the phone with my friend and editor Andrew and told him. Andrew is a geek like me, and Anne is a geek-adjacent normal person. They both give me honest feedback about my crazy ideas, so when they both thought it was a solid plan from their different perspectives, I decided to accept the invitation.
I called Robert and told him my idea. He thought it was a good idea, and we ended the conversation sort of like this:
Me: Yeah, so I totally want to do this. I think it will be awesome.
Robert: I'll see you in Boston, then.
Incidentally, I appear to have a class feature which gives all members of my party +5 to saying awesome.
I hung up the phone, and about five seconds elapsed before the panic set in. "What have I done? What have I gotten myself into? I can't do this! I suck! They're all going to laugh at me!"
Ah, the panic. Years ago, it would have paralyzed me, but I've done this long enough to recognize that it's just part of my creative process. Now I can actually use it to get me to the next step, which is I suck, followed by this is stupid, before eventually arriving at hey, this is actually pretty cool.
As I said, I've been working on this night and day, pretty much exclusively, for about three weeks. I'm trying to take breaks to write other things, record RFB, and maintain progress on Memories of the Future Volume 2, but it's incredibly difficult to take my brain off the task at hand. Part of my brain obviously needs to vent pressure, though, because every day I'm adding something new to my little book of story ideas. When this is all over, I may even be able to turn some of them into actual stories.
I'm not looking forward to I suck and this is stupid, but I know that hey, this is actually pretty cool, is on the horizon, and I'm not going to lie to you, Marge: I'm very excited to finish writing my keynote, and even more excited to deliver it.
See you in Boston.