SCBWI conferences: so many kinds of awesome

I’m finally starting to be able to come down from the high that was last weekend’s SCBWI Western Washington’s Writing and Illustrating for Children conference. After an extended period of not enough sleep, too much forced extroversion, and total detail overwhelm, I expected to be exhausted, but instead I was completely energized. It was so many kinds of awesome for me. I actually broke into tears driving home (the good kind, to be sure), and I’ve been walking around with a silly grin on my face ever since.

First of all, just being in the same room with that many people who care about the same thing I do is a gift. I’ve felt that at every writer’s conference I’ve ever been to, and that in itself is reason enough to go. As a recovering pleaser, I guess I’m still a total sucker for validation.
More than that, though, was the shift in my own reality. I had three  goals for this conference:

  1. Try to relax and enjoy the moment. I have a strong perfectionist streak and can be a total control freak sometimes, but this year I was able to (mostly) just let go and make the best of it.
  2. Connect with people rather than their roles. I have always felt self-conscious around the faculty—those gatekeepers and success stories whom I so admire and respect—but this year I felt like I could’ve brought all of them home to my messy house for beer and burgers (probably more of a testament to their humility and grace than any personal growth on my part!).
  3. Get more comfortable speaking to a crowd. I have always been terrified of public speaking, but this year it was not only easy, it was actually fun!

I’ve wished and worked for these qualities all my life, and they finally chose to manifest themselves last weekend. I feel like Laini Taylor’s Magpie Windwitch, stuffing my most noxious demons into a fine glass bottle and pounding the cork in tight—banishing them to darkness where they can no longer exercise their evil powers.
So, the trick now is to go back to the solitary work of writing and revising without the task list spreadsheet, inexorable deadline, or golden “boss” pin. I can’t delegate anything away to my more competent friends, no one will be stopping me in the hall to thank me for my efforts, and there will be no standing ovation when it’s done. But I still have more goals to achieve (and more demons to banish), so it’s back to work I go with a renewed sense of confidence and optimism.
How about you: did you have pre-conference goals, do you feel like you achieved them, and what’s up next on your to-do list?

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7 thoughts on “SCBWI conferences: so many kinds of awesome”

  1. Laurie,
    I actually did have some pre-conference goals and completed each of them. How refreshing! The first was to meet some new people. Check. Second was to gain some tangible wisdom I could apply to my own writing and habits. Check. Third was to gain a realistic outlook of my career. Through Laini, Jay and Peter’s keynotes address, I was very encouraged. Now to put feet to what I learned. Thanks for all your hard work.

    • Hi, Kirk! I saw you in at least one of the same sessions as me, but unfortunately I couldn’t say hello then. It sounds like you had some great goals for the conference, and I’m so glad to hear you met them. Thanks for sharing, and good luck with your work!

  2. You are ALL kinds of awesome, my dear! What a great conference! The keynotes were a grand slam. Seriously!!! And, can I tell you how much I love that photo of you three? 🙂 xoxo

    • Thank you, Jolie! You are all kinds of awesome, too! We never could have done any of this without you and Sara so graciously handing down all of your tools and expertise. We learned from the best! And your contribution this year with the first-time attendee orientation was a HUGE HUGE HUGE positive. Thanks so much for sticking around and hanging in there with us. Yay!
      – Laurie
      p.s. I seriously love that picture of the three of us, too. 😉

  3. Beautiful post, Laurie. Makes me smile ear to ear. And I wasn’t even there. But you inspire me to face a few of my own demons and shove them in bottles with corks. Thanks.


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