A few hours ago I fell over in the satisfied collapse of the productive worker. For, after spending most of the last week on it, I completed organizing and typing up the Mythcon schedule. (It'll be going up on the Mythopoeic Society's website soon, I trust.)
Mythcon is a small conference, small enough that, when I'm on the committee, I usually hand-craft the entire schedule myself, because I like doing that. It's necessary to be creative in certain ways: when faced with a list of (this year) 32 papers, 6 panels, 5 author readings, and various other items, the question becomes, where do you start? I usually start by picking out all the papers requiring AV and putting them in the same room on the same day. (Why many SF cons end up trundling their AV equipment from room to room and back again, I don't know.) That serves as a backbone to grow the rest of the schedule from. This paper should follow that one, that other one can go opposite this one, this person can't be here on Saturday, and eventually it comes together.
Because we're rather overprogrammed for such a small con - we got in more paper proposals than we expected, but then we always do - I opted for a perhaps controversial "broken field" style of scheduling, where items of varying lengths, 30 to 90 minutes, start at varying half-hour intervals. The idea is to avoid too many items occupying exactly the same timeslot as each other, in case one of them is so obscure that nobody comes. (And with luck, the attendees won't notice the way I slotted papers on obscure books to be opposite each other, instead of opposite something popular.) With items starting every which way of a time, it'll be easier to drop in on one, then another, or get caught up in something because it's the only item starting at that time.
I began my work with little slips of paper with titles and summaries on them, which I pushed around a table. (I can't use the floor here, because if you put a piece of paper on our floor, Pandora will come and sit on it, in keeping with the cat rule of "if there is something to be on top of, do so.") Then I transfer that to a scrawled time-graph on lined paper, where each pre-printed line represents a half-hour interval as you temporally drop down the page. Finally, I type it up, copying and pasting paper information from the papers coordinator. Then I re-create the graph from the typed schedule to check against typos.
The other thing I had to do, and I accomplished this first, was to invent panel titles and descriptions. This year our theme is "Myths and legends from Europe and Asia meet and mingle," and I put together 3 panels to address various aspects of this topic. The problem is that, due partly to the limited availability of good panelists for a given topic, the subtopics twist around and overlap each other. I explained in detail in an e-mail to all the panelists how I intended for this to fit together, and why they were all chosen for those specific panels. That done, in the program book I could be looser, and went for the fanciful and allusive.
And that's done. It'll be up soon. Now, on to corrections and additions to bibliography that was just dropped in my lap last night with an Ultra Urgent sticker; getting the Mythcon readers' theatre play organized;
writing my paper no, I cancelled that; possibly updating a very very overdue article; writing some LoCs ...