Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Recaps and News

The SCBWI WWA conference was the first true writing conference I have ever attended. I don't know what to say except that it far exceeded my expectations. I think I imagined there would be a few lonely, disgruntled, awkward writers feverishly gathered around an "industry pro" trying to sweet talk them into some kind of contract. Instead, I joined hundreds of authors and illustrators, from every walk of life, and felt a sense of true community and support from all sides. I met novices and pros, young folks and old, agents and publishers, artists and scientists. And in every conversation I felt a kind of kinship. We knew the same dreams and fears. We spoke the same language of love.

I don't know how the organizers of this event did it. I am sometimes quick to judge people, especially when I feel small and unimportant myself. I sometimes withdraw if I feel I've been forgotten. And yet, I left the conference with deep respect for the people and presenters there and felt I had been respected in return. I had been with my tribe. In fact, this conference inspired me so much, I left it ready to change my life. More on that soon.

Highlights from the weekend, in no particular order:

  • Mac Barnett's keynote on play, imagination, and the space between truth and lies = fiction.
  • Sophie Blackall's keynote on play, adventure, making a mess, and haphazard success.
  • Kelly Milner Hall's keynote on being proud to be weird.
  • Robin LaFevers' keynote on the drive to write and the voice within. Finding the center from which to create. Probably my favorite keynote... brought me to tears more than once.
  • Joanna Volpe's workshop on Publishing 101. The ins-and-outs of contracts. She was incredibly generous with her knowledge and impressed me immensely.
  • Kendra Levin's workshops on character and the agent/ client relationship.
  • Roundtable critiques with Kendra Levin and Stacy Whitman. At first I was terrified of this component of the conference, but it went well. My work was well received and genuinely encouraged. 
  • Stacy Whitman's workshop on diversity in speculative fiction.

A few weeks later, I had yet another chance to connect with writers and to learn from a master: John Crowley. Again, this event did not disappoint. Clarion West hosted a full (Mother's!) day workshop on plotting at the University Bookstore.

I've been a fan of John Crowley since a close friend recommended I read Little, Big. This book blew my mind and immediately found a place among my top ten books of all time. It goes without saying that I was a touch nervous about meeting the genius behind it.

And genius he is! I did nothing but listen and scribble and think and wonder for six straight hours on Mother's Day. I had woken up that morning with a stomach bug, but somehow powered through... and am so glad I did. I'm still reeling from all the information and inspiration of that day. There were only 14 people in the workshop, (including Darian!), and again, I can honestly say that this community was inspiring and uplifting. What a gift for a tired and tummy-troubled mama. Many thanks to Michael and Nana and Pops for making all of these events possible.

Lastly, I have two bits of happy news to report:

First: My sweet friend, Kelly Jones, just signed with literary agent Mandy Hubbard. Huzzah! Kelly is a talented, driven writer who has worked hard to earn this reward. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a SCBWI critique session earlier this year and I got a glimpse of her middle grade book, featuring magic chickens. I thought it was fantastic and clearly, Mandy Hubbard also has good taste. What's more, Kelly is a kind and generous person who has been helping me navigate the writing life ever since we met. I am sincerely thrilled for her and looking forward to learning more as her journey continues.

Second: Another dear writing friend, Jennifer Adam, will have a story published in the next edition of Scheherezade's Bequest, from Cabinet des Fee. Kelly and Jennifer have both been mentoring me a bit and to see them succeed is absolutely heart-warming.


Kelly said...

Aw, thanks, Edith -- though I would say we're helping each other. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the workshop -- what an amazing opportunity!

Mommy to My Hero(es) said...

Many congrats to all! Happy to hear that you are having many successful writing experiences.

Edith Hope Bishop said...

Thanks to you both!! You are both inspirations. =)