Hi Mixed-Up Filers!!
It’s good to be back! Welcome to my semi-annual post with Mixed-Up Files!! Okay, before I incur the wrath of the all-mighty Elissa Cruz, I am joking! It’s only been fourteen months. Wait, is that more or less than semi-annual? I’m sorry, math has never been my best subject. But, it’s okay. That’s what happens when you write for a popular site like Mixed-Up Files and its eighty-seven members! Still, I appreciate the massive letter-writing campaign that has been undertaken on my behalf, in order to get me more time on this site! Elissa Cruz told me that it literally took her like three to five minutes to go through the two letters she received, clamoring for more of me! I thank both of you for writing!
But, I digress. Back to my post! I was originally going to entitle this Our Firsts, but then I realized that I titled my last post that, and I also believe it makes me sound like some lovesick teenage girl writing an entry in my diary. But, that’s not it at all.
I’m talking about conferences!
This past weekend, the area I live in (south Florida), had its winter SCBWI writing conference. And in another week is the SCBWI winter conference in New York. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the Florida one this year. And the New York conference is strange for me, because while I am originally from New York, I have never attended a conference there. But, thinking about it, reminded me of the first time I went to any writing conference.
I am not sure exactly what year my first one was without putting a lot of thought into it, and as many of you know, whenever I do that, it never turns out well. But in any event, it was quite a few years ago. And what I remember most, was that I was sooooo nervous going. I didn’t know anybody, but was still excited to see real-life authors speak on the topic of writing. I wanted to get better, but I also remember thinking that I was already pretty good. I guess, that is a requirement of anybody that has a creative spark, you better believe in yourself to an extent, no matter what, right?
So, I went down to the conference, pretty much stayed to myself, and just soaked everything in. Not that I was anti-social, it’s just overwhelming when you really don’t know anybody and you are attending an event where it seemed like everybody knows everybody else except for you. After you go for a while, you begin to see that these writing folk are really just regular people. Perhaps, a bit odder and more eccentric than everybody else, but still just people…okay, a lot odder and more eccentric, but still, they are a tight-knit bunch and very welcoming to new writers. I felt amazed at seeing all these people whose books I’d loved, standing alongside of me. It takes a few moments to get over being star-struck, and remember why you are there.
One of the funny things I do remember, is being extremely confident. Sure, I admired these writers, but I was also ready to dazzle everybody with my own writing. They would hear my work and shower me with praise and adulation, perhaps be carried off on their shoulders , with the well-deserved shouts of “Way to write!” echoing through the halls.
Well, that didn’t happen. What did in fact happen, was the embarrassment of hearing my work ripped apart. Why? Because I wasn’t ready. Plain and simple. So, what did I do? I basically, slunk back home, with tail between my legs and kept trying. It was either that or give up, and almost every speaker I’ve heard since that initial conference, said that those that persevered, were the ones who made it. If you doubt, then you give up, and of course you won’t succeed.
You have to keep working at it and get better. I mean now, I’m almost ready to use two syllable words on a semi-regular basis. Almost. Since that first time, I’ve gone to many conferences and met many wonderful people and heard some great people in the writing industry speak. I have been getting positive critiques and feel much more polished. And even more important than any of that, is that I’ve made some incredible friends. And if you are a writer, you know that writing friends are necessary and also different than non-writing friends, because they just get what you’re doing. Your other friends just can’t understand. They are the ones issuing questions such as “Why aren’t you published yet?” or “Are you going to be rich doing this?”. You need those other writing friends. Now, when I go to conferences in this area, I feel like I know the majority and it’s certainly a lot more fun when a lot of people know you as well. A much better experience hanging with like-minded people, instead of standing off to the side and observing.
So, if you are in the SCBWI New York conference next weekend, and you see a lost soul hailing from Coral Springs, Florida, go on over and say hi!! And then of course have the common decency to introduce him to Julie Andrews!!
And remember, if I receive over 100 comments, Elissa Cruz has promised to cover herself with honey and run through a bear cave. Honestly, you just can’t beat that for your entertainment dollar!