After WriteOnCon, I got up the guts to attend my regional Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference: SCBWI Midsouth. I joined SCBWI earlier this year, and since then I’ve heard rumors here and there that the region I just happen to live in is one of the best in the United States and hosts a fantastic conference each fall. While I have no comparisons at this point, after attending the Midsouth Fall Conference this past weekend, I’m convinced the rumors must be true.
The event went smoothly thanks to all the volunteers, and the speakers were fantastic. Jay Asher’s opening speech about his path to publication had me laughing throughout it all and even close to tears at one point. Then the breakout sessions I attended led by editors and agents set my mind buzzing with ideas. They gave me some tools to continue revisions on Fire & Sand to make it stronger. Sometimes, when you’re this close to a project for this long, it is hard to have perspective and step back to really determine what isn’t working and, more importantly, how to fix it. By Sunday afternoon, though, after hearing advice from the pros about revising, character building, pacing, and voice, I felt better prepared for the weeks of revision ahead. I’m excited by my WIP again, and that’s a wonderful feeling.
Something else happened at this conference, though. Something surprising. I met people. Me, the introvert! In between sessions, it became easier as the weekend progressed to smile at the person next to me, introduce myself, and ask about what they wrote or illustrated and how they were enjoying the conference. I was not the only newbie, it turned out. Several I met and talked to were as well. Even those who weren’t new to publishing or conferences were glad to chat for awhile. Then, when my time for a peer group critique came, I met several YA writers from my own area and had the opportunity to connect with them over our first five pages. However solitary the writing experience is when you are facing a laptop or monitor for hours at a time, it is nice to know you aren’t alone.
So, now I’m letting it all sink in .. take root. And then I’m encouraging the fresh new tendrils of ideas sparked by the conference to grow.