The promotion itself is a week from tonight. I'm less nervous than I was when Shihan sent the e-mail last week, and now that I've filled out the form and stuff I'm feeling even more philosophical about it. Shihan wouldn't have invited me if I wasn't ready. In fact, he was going to invite me last fall, but the promotion fell on the same weekend as Albacon, where I was a Guest of Honor, and I couldn't really back out of that. So I had to wait until this spring, which worked out for the best, I think. For one thing, one of the people going up now is Senpai Cliff, who has been one of my mentors and role models in karate from the beginning. He wasn't among those who went up last fall, so if I had gone up then, I would have been promoted ahead of him, which would've just felt wrong to me.
But this promotion includes Cliff, as well as two other first-degree black belts (Jorge and Charles; all three of them have been in the dojo far longer than me, but their promotion track has been lengthened for various and sundry real-life reasons) and Rey, an advanced brown belt. All four of the others going up with me are dear friends as well as being fellow karateka, and it's an honor to be going up with them.
Anyhow, I'm pretty much as ready as I'm going to be for the promotion next week -- which is good, as there won't be much training between now and then. Tonight, Wrenn and I are joining two of the Forebearance for a Glen Velez concert, and then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is Lunacon. I may go to class on Monday or Tuesday.
Speaking of Lunacon, I'm not holding out much hope for this convention to not suck. The con has been in a downward spiral toward irrelevance the last few years. It's following the same pattern as Philcon, another once-great convention that has been stuck in the mud.
In both cases, the reasons are twofold: alienation of the pro community and a spectacular inability to attract new (read: younger) people to the con. By contrast two other east-coast cons, Balticon and Arisia, have continued to thrive, and the reason is due to a level of flexibility that Lunacon and Philcon have not shown. Arisia and Balticon have embraced multiple media, including comics, anime, podcasting, and so on, where Lunacon and Philcon are still insisting on being literary-only cons -- but more fundamental than that, they're the same kind of literary-only cons they were 20 years ago. You look at the panel listings, and it's like the last two decades never even happened.
On top of that, Lunacon has become irrelevant as a literary convention because it does nothing to attract anyone from publishing, nor have they done enough to take advantage of the very large genre writing community in New York City. Most of the people who do go, do so via inertia, and newer writers aren't even aware of the damn thing. On top of that, programming has consistently been disorganized over the past decade, leaving a bad taste in many pros' mouths (including mine). This year, we didn't find out our schedule until this morning, the day before the con, and then only because the schedule happened to go up on the password-protected pro registration web site and somebody noticed. I have yet to receive an actual communication from the convention with regards to my schedule.
None of these things inspire confidence in the continued ability of the con to function. (On top of that, their Guest of Honor had to cancel due to health reasons, which isn't the con's fault at all, but still....)
I'm looking forward to going to see people, and I'll be happy if I actually sell a book or three, but I'm going in with no expectations professionally, which is not the way I should be going to a 56-year-old science fiction convention with Lunacon's grand history.