Leaving New York

I'm at LaGuardia waiting for a flight back to Colorado and reflecting on an amazing weekend at SCBWI. I'm totally exhausted, but renewed at the same time. I love New York -- the energy, the food, the shopping, the people (did I mention the food?). Here's a snippet of just one day in NY. Yesterday, I had Dim Sum in Chinatown, watched ice skaters in Bryant Park, had an amazing dinner in this great little Greek place, saw Billie Joe Armstrong in American Idiot on Broadway and laughed a lot with fellow writers and friends. Oh yeah, and I went to a conference, too. All the excitement has left me overly stimulated and completely brain dead. Even so, here are some major themes coming to mind as I reflect back on my time in NY.

What I learned from the 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference in NY

There are stupid questions. Don't use valuable Q&A time with editors and agents to ask questions that can be easily answered by doing a little research online. Bad questions= What is your email address? How many words are in a middle grade (YA, picture book)? Do you take hard copy submissions? Do you take email submissions? Do you need an agent? Can you repeat your email address?

Be kind. There was a woman at my critique group who had left her toddler alone for the first time to come to the conference and read aloud her picture book manuscript. She was nervous, teary eyed, and terrified at being critiqued for the first time by an agent and eight other writers. It didn't matter how good the story was, she needed some plain, old fashioned kindness. There was a time I needed that kindness and I hope I never forget what that felt like.

Schmooze. I hate mingling. My basic introverted personality screams out in horror at the idea BUT if there if ever a time to meet and greet, it's at these kind of conferences. Writing is an incredibly solitary endeavor most of the time, but weekends like this remind me that connections are so important. I'm always a bit amazed at how one connection, leads to another, leads to another. Yes, you need the writing to back it up, but face to face time is critical, too.

Laugh. This is a tough business and it isn't getting easier. The good news? Children's writers are funny. Going to a conference gives me the opportunity to find new friends, and connect with old ones, that really get my sense of humor. I laughed a LOT and that is always a good thing.

Go Home and Get to Work. My big goal for this conference was to go home motivated to complete my newest manuscript by the end of February. Thanks to some encouraging feedback, I'm flying back to the day job and my crazy life with major incentives to carve out the time somehow to GET THIS THING DONE!


Loved the post. So great to meet you, and hang out, and hear the tales of your past life with Barney.

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