Next week at this time I’ll be on an island in northern Michigan for our SCBWI fall writers’ conference along with Arthur Levine and Jodell Sadler, just to name-drop a couple of speakers. I also will be on a panel discussing non-traditional publication and epublication. No pressure.
It’s a five-hour drive up there, a ferry ride across to the island, and staying in a hotel twice as expensive than what I’d normally spend. Will it be worth it? Every minute and every penny!
Besides the incredible amount of knowledge intake from an event like this, there are the reunions with writers and illustrators I haven’t seen for a while and the networking and meeting of new comrades. The excitement builds. So do my worries. Even a seasoned conference-goers like myself has some concerns. Will I make the right travel connections? Will the travel weather and the island weather be lovely, horrid, or not matter? Will I bring too much, too little? Will I be able to speak without having a cotton ball throat, even to greet people, or want to hide in my room?
I therefore share two important things to know when attending a writers’ conference: 1) It’s not about you; and 2) It’s all about you.
For the first point, it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing cute shoes. Really. It doesn’t matter that you feel insecure about a thousand things. Only you will know that. Every other honest person would admit the same. You will need to step outside of worrying about the way you look or speak or act, and try to set yourself free for the weekend. Breathe deeply. You are there for your written words (or illustrations). Quit looking in a mirror. Straighten up. Stand tall. Remember, it’s not about you.
For the second point, it really is all about you, or rather what you represent. You are at the conference not only to learn, but also to connect with others in similar positions as you. The world of writing and illustrating for kids is a wonderful avocation/vocation with dynamic people who care — care about fellow writers and illustrators, and care about our readers. We’re all in this together. Reach out to others. Talk. Share. Reflect. Take home ways to better your craft and to proceed into a lifetime of this twisting and changing and wonderfully spinning career choice. Remember, it’s all about you.
Mackinac Island SCBWI-MI 2014 Conference, look out! Here we come!