Last weekend I had the somewhat unexpected and wholly delightful opportunity to attend the 2017 Spring Spirit Conference for the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) chapter of North/Central California. (Take a breath! That was a long sentence right out of the gate.) As proof that I sojourned all the way from Minneapolis to balmy Sacramento, I submit this photo of me in my classic Awkward Tourist Pose.
|If only I’d known about that goose behind me,
I would’ve crouched down to create the illusion of holding him
in my awkwardly raised hand.
This was my first time presenting at a SCBWI conference, and because things lined up at the last minute, the shy over-preparer in me was freeeeeeaked ouuuuuuut. Fortunately all the people I met there–members, organizers, and fellow faculty–were nerve-soothingly kind to the nth degree, even if I learned more from them than they did from me. A small sample of those lessons:
1. The North/Central California SCBWI chapter takes good care of people. I knew I would quickly lose the insulating cover on the thermos the organizers gave me, and I did, but the Iron Man candy dispenser is still safely in my possession. Beyond the swag, they were unfailingly friendly, generous, and on top of everything.
2. FOF (Fear of Finishing)–a condition about which I often counsel my authors–is widespread among editors, designers, and agents as well as writers. All the faculty worked hard on their presentations before the conference, and most had given some version of their talks before, but at least half of us were up at 5 or 6 in the morning polishing our PowerPoints or moving material around. I found our shared blend of perfectionism and humility–the awareness that our knowledge should not be static but evolving, and the drive to improve what we’re sharing with others–weirdly comforting.
3. There is always more to talk about. Our hour-long diversity panel easily could’ve lasted a full day. My Q&A session went by in a blink. Every time I paused for breath during my official presentation, I thought of something else I could’ve added to the talk–another connection I could’ve made, another idea I could’ve explored. If I’m lucky, I’ll get the chance to attend more conferences, meet more inspiring people, and keep learning.
While I was too caught up in the swirl of activity to take any photos at the conference itself, I did manage to snap one picture that sums up the vibe.
|Behold: a California wildflower!|