When: May 3, 4, 5
Where: Springfield, Massachusetts
Who: SO MANY WRITERS!!!
What: Keynotes and workshops and pitches, oh my!
This was my first official conference for the Northeast Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (NESCBWI) and it blew my socks off! They kept us very busy--I have a notebook full of scribbles that I'm now decoding, gleaning all those gems of information passed on by industry professionals from picture book writers, middle-grade and young adult writers, and agents and editors. There were members there from as far away as Texas, travelling all the way to the east coast because the NESCBWI conferences are awesome! (You can see the details at https://newengland.scbwi.org/ )
Aside from the four workshops on Saturday and three on Sunday, and meeting other aspiring authors, my favorite part of the conference was the keynotes. While it's understandably frowned upon to pass along information learned at a workshop or conference, I think it would be okay to share a snippet of inspiration from the keynote speakers (and if I'm wrong, please let me know!)
Jane Yolen, award-winning author of over 300 books for children, (including the How Do Dinosaurs... books) started off the conference on Friday evening. Among the inspiration she shared, I loved her focus on valuing the writing process, not the end product, because, Jane said, if you focus on the product, you will lose the joy of writing and you will burn yourself out.
Patricia MacLachlan also spoke on Friday evening, in a fireside chat. Patricia is the author of one of my favorite books, Sarah Plain and Tall, and seeing her on stage was a trip--she's quite outspoken and funny and tart! I enjoyed her take on writing as "a wonderful way to make a living" because you can take naps, hang with the cat, drink...and find joy (because of the writing, not the drinking. Or...maybe both?).
Saturday, the keynote speaker was Lynda Mullaly Hunt, a middle-grade author who spoke about being vulnerable in writing, as she found herself doing at a whole new, uncomfortable level with her newest book Shouting at the Rain. Lynda had so many great quotes (my notebook is a solid mass of scribbles!) but one that resonated with me was: "It's not who you think you are that holds you back. It's who you think you are not" --a quote attributed to Denis Waitley.
And finally on Sunday, Euka Holmes closed the conference. EUKA HOLMES, y'all! She spoke with the kind amazing energy and warmth that is reflected in her art and told us about specific books that she illustrated and her process of creation. One thing she shared was something her mother always told her: "Don't get ahead of yourself, don't let yourself get overwhelmed. Just do the next thing, whatever that may be." I loved that! Good advice for any endeavor!
So now the conference is over, and while I'm still processing everything, I am also considering the next steps in my own writing journey. As I move forward, I hope to hold on to the inspiration that I gained from the people above, who've been there, done that, and triumphed. I hope to hold on to the inspiration to enjoy the process, take naps because I can, not limit myself, and "just do the next thing, whatever that my be."