This is how it went:
I was home for the ninth day in a row with my children, watching via social media everyone getting ready for the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference. My littlest was laying on the couch burning a fever, date night was canceled, and the plumber just left with bad news. I was starting to feel a tad sorry for myself when I devised a plan.
I would simply get up at 4:30 am, drive to Springfield, Massachusetts, and spend the day. It’s genius. I know! So that’s what I did. I shot out of bed, grabbed coffee, stuck on my YA book on CD, and went on my way. Three and half hours later I arrived in Springfield. The hotel was quiet, because the keynote had already started, but I registered (See my impromptu name tag) and slipped into the world of writers.
I’ve never actually arrived at a conference in full tilt. It’s kind of weird. The participants are on this creativity high. The first person I spoke to, don’t know her name, clutched my elbows together and squealed, “I just need to tell somebody, I got a full request from an agent!”
This energy reminds me of whitewater kayaking. Imagine this, you sitting in a boat about to tip into the rapids. The trees are above you and you simply need to push off, but it’s scary. Once in the water, the squirly waves pull this way and that. There is this moment of plunging and then flying into the sky before whipping your body behind a rock to take it all in. Here, in this quiet you’ll find a moment to experience all that this river has to offer.
The conference was really the same. Participants were riding waves of true greatness. Friends of mine were speaking and basking in the glow of their first published book. The winds of opportunity whistled through the Sheraton. At moments, I felt the need to find a still eddy and simply listen. Listen to Kate Messner talk about speaking at the Ted Conference. Listen to Harry Bliss discuss his inspirations for The New Yorker covers. Wow! Like a river that should be on your kayaking list, this conference is not to be missed.
I stole this picture with permission from Jo’s site because I think it sums up the conference so perfectly. Each author holding their new books, signing away. Love that.
Some thoughts on Lynda and Jo…
Getting to hear Jo Knowles speak for the second time in two months was a treat. She taps into the revision part of my brain that can be a tag sluggish. I recommend that if you haven’t already checked out her books, you do so quickly. They are amazing.
Lastly, I’m so happy that I made this trip to see Lynda Mullaly Hunt speak about her debut novel One for the Murphys. Lynda is such an inspiration to me. She is not only one of the nicest people you could meet in the writing world, but she is this really amazing cheerleader for all of us writers in the trenches.
The ride home was long, but during my three and half hours I had time to think about jumping into a conference head first. It’s a long day (almost twenty hours for me!) but its totally worth it. Go open-minded and ride the energy of success. Have a few drinks with friends and reconnect with people in the industry. Make new friends! This business is simply too difficult to go it alone.
(Confession: This totally took me more than 15 minutes to write)