And looks something like this:
I'm scatterbrained as you can plainly see, a tad bit overwhelmed and giddy and definitely not in the right place to blog about all the juicy details. Instead, what I have decided to do is to write about what I did RIGHT this time around, at my second writer's conference, as opposed to how I was as a first time conference goer. (Please see Lessons for Next Time post, aka Conference #1: A Disaster Story) Of course this does not mean I did not have a few banana peel slips throughout the day, I mean, I just wouldn't be me without a few of those, but let us focus on the non-humiliating aspects of the experience.
The bestest thing I did was read Meredith Barnes's article, Conference 101: Know Before You Go, just before embarking on my conference journey. Did I wince a few times while experiencing some horrific flashbacks from my first conference? Sure! But it changed my perspective completely on conference-going.
The days leading up to the conference, I began chanting to myself and my husband what I hoped to get from this conference...
"I'm really going to go in and learn all I can from these workshops."
"I am really excited to meet other writers."
Just imagine me repeating these thoughts over and over again aloud about fifty times and you get the gist of the main topic of conversation in the days prior to me leaving for what here-on-out will be referred to Conference #2: A Success Story.
With the sun shining, green pastures both to my right and left, some giant big rigs spewing pebbles at my windshield, and The Boss blasting from my speakers (love you Bruce!), I was off at 6:00 in the morning, repeating the my mantra as I drove.
Learn, meet, pastries. Learn, meet, pastries.
After getting lost while translating my map and ignoring my best judgment, I finally arrived, ready to learn, meet, and pastry. (Please note that I have created a new verb, pastry (v): to consume large amounts of delicious, doughy pastries by loitering awkwardly around the pastry table for way too long.)
Rather than boring you with a play-by-play here is a list of what I did RIGHT at Conference #2: A Success Story (I owe it all to you Meredith Barnes!):
- I introduced myself to other writers I had seen online and met new unsuspecting writers on the seats next to me.
- Made jokes about how much coffee I had already had.
- Chatted while waiting in line for the restroom.
Touched Bitsy Kemper's pink, spunky hair like I had known her for a lifetime.
- I approached editors and agents about what impressed me about THEIR work, because wowza, were they impressive. Please note: This was truly authentic...It wasn't coming from my own ambitions or hopes to promote my own work, just from an enthusiasm for all things children's literature. Highly recommend it! (Side note: This was NOT how I approached Conference #1: A Disaster Story)=)
- I don't think I mentioned my blog one time in attempts to recruit readers or contributors
- Nor did I whip out my business cards (which I am thinking of using to kindle summer campfires)
- I only really discussed my WIP in depth once, at a first pages critique session, where looking at writers' work was the goal.
I just enjoyed myself and the amazingly supportive community of children's authors and illustrators.
Although I am new at all of this, I know that this is the best piece of advice I can offer anyone who is going to their first conference. Enjoy yourself...learn, meet, pastry.
(P.S. Now that the conference is over, please note that I have added some pretty social media buttons, with the help of the amazing Sylvia Liu. Come slip with me! )