When I walked into the Fitchburg Marriott for the NESCBWI’s Celebrating Milestones Conference 2011, I was greeted by this piece of artwork. It struck me as the perfect image to set the scene for a weekend full of writing splendor, because just by being there you were so very lucky. Here in the crowds of the conference are writers of all abilities. Jane Yolen buzzes past a a first time picture book author. Tommie Depaola rides the elevator like a regular person. Oh, look! An editor pretending to be “normal” like the rest of us (I totally kept your secret, by the way). You never know when you come to these conferences what piece of advice or connection you make that will drastically improve your writing or bring the business of your writing to a new level. The ride to the top of the publishing world is obviously not easy. I learned this weekend that even the greats get rejections. Still! Who knew? I learned that you must as an artist stay adaptable. You must stay fresh. Even when the ride isn’t. You see, at these writing conferences full of creative souls don’t try to compete with the sparkle, somebody will out do you with their Grandma’s china strapped to a chain or a hot mama with silver boots that were made for dancing. Just be yourself. Find your own sparkle. And by all means don’t try to dance next to Betsy Devany, winner of the 2011 Ruth Glass Scholarship. She is that good! You simply must keep laughing! This is Sally Riley, NESCBWI RA. Isn’t she the cutest?Don’t be fooled fellow writers. She’ll kick your butt in Children’s Lit Trivia. She’s a shark. Keep working on your craft. It is the only way to be successful. Work. Work. Work. And then work some more. Well, that’s what I’m doing. So don’t look up. Don’t look down. Make some friends. Write some more! And if you do these things. I mean, truly do them, I believe that publication is yours! I mean mine! Okay, ours. Writing conferences will give you the skills to do it. I’d like to thank everyone for their hard hard work. The Celebrating Milestone’s Conference was an inspiration. I’m writing like mad with a brain full of tricks.
On that note, did I really say to that agent, “I’ll send my full manuscript in the next two weeks…” That’s okay, I’m feeling lucky.