Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Why I say no

by Rob - September 15th, 2008.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

I’m saying no more and more to things these days. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you — I probably do! — but way too often these days I get asked to do events that pay very little (or nothing) and yet require me to commit to being in Toronto (or somewhere else) on a specific date many months in the future.

For instance, back in January 2008, because it was a friend asking, I agreed to an event at one of Toronto’s universities for October 2008. Said friend’s email had noted, “There’ll be an honorarium of $250, which I know isn’t much — but it’ll just be one evening.”

But now the event has been canceled (a fact that I only learned because I followed up yesterday).

The dang thing is, for most of this past year, while planning other trips I’ve had to work around that date in Toronto. For instance, since agreeing to the above, it turns out that in early October, I have to be in Vancouver just before this agreed-to event, and in Edmonton just after it.

Now, Toronto / Vancouver / Edmonton / Toronto is 9,000 km (and three flights). But Toronto / Vancouver / Toronto / Edmonton / Toronto is 16,000 km and four flights — and I ended up doing the latter itinerary to accommodate this event; the $250 fee I lost when the event evaporated was inconsequential, but I racked up much greater airline bills trying to work around the date in Toronto I’d committed to (and thereby hugely increased my carbon footprint for October).

So, forgive me if I say no to your low-money or free event, no matter how far in advance you ask me. Even if your event is not going to be canceled, for sure, for sure, you’re still asking me to lock in a date, which will certainly be awkward for me, given my extensive travel schedule, and may also mean I have to turn down a lucrative keynote or other opportunity for the same date should one come my way — and that’s a major part of my business.

So, many thanks for thinking of me, best of luck with your event, but — sorry!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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