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?

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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