Friday, August 11, 2006

SCBWI wrap-up

Well, I have to dash this off, but wanted to post something today. Sorry if it's a little helter skelter!

I had never attended one of the big annual conferences before, so this was a new thing for me, but I had a great time. Partly because I knew so many people there, and partly because the energy and warmth of everyone was just filling up the whole place. I won't do shout-outs, so I'll just say hi to all of those people I met and hung out with. You know who you are!

All of the speakers I saw were amazing. Poor Jane Yolen who got incredibly ill with food poisoning the night before her speech and was in a wheel chair--she was inspiring, sick or not, and I'll forever hear her mantra "Write the damn book" echoing in my head, and no doubt I'll borrow it for future talks of my own. She deserved her standing ovation.

The winners at the Golden Kite luncheon were incredible, too--their speeches made me cry! And I sat next to a lovely woman who has attended ALL. 35. CONFERENCES. Amazing.

Even though I'm not a writer and not aspiring to be, I learn so much myself and meet so many great people. I learn tips on how to be a better speaker, a better presenter. It keeps me coming back, and I hope I'll be invited back in the future. And hey--I'd love to do the New York one, too. (hint hint)

It's funny--the thing I mentioned on the panel discussion that was talked about most was my use of the term "young women's commercial fiction" instead of chick lit--Cindy would be delighted. Cindy is the editorial director of our paperback young women's commercial fiction imprint which includes Gossip Girl and The Clique, and she's demanded that we use this term and we've happily complied. Maybe it will spread! Spread the word! No more chick lit.

These conferences always give me a taste of what it's like to be a celebrity, but on a smaller scale. But it's true--especially after I give talks, people are constantly coming up to me as if they know me, as if they WANT to know me. It's a very odd feeling, and not an altogether unpleasant one. And its comforting to know that when I leave I return to anonymity. I think that's the beauty of being in publishing, being an author or illustrator--you can receive the respect of your peers, people who know of you fawning over you (I loved seeing Tomie dePaola's with his groupies around the lobby bar), and yet mention the name to your friends (c'mon, Tomie know Strega Nona, right?!?!) you get blank reactions. So strange. But it's nice to every now and then go someplace where you can feel important and special.

This week has been a blur, and now I need to get out of here--I'm heading to Grand Central to catch a train up to Westchester. For one of my book groups this month (yes, Jodi, the "real" book group), we're having a get-together at Julie's house--I'm looking forward to it. And that echoes what I felt was the theme of the conference and a point a emphasized in my workshop--Community. We have such a great children's book community here. I see it in my friends, my colleagues, at conferences. Kindling Words, SCBWI, Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure, book groups, Blue Rose Girls, etc. I'm so happy to be a part of it all with all of you.

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