Tuesday, August 6, 2013

SCBWI's Summer Conference 2013/IWSG




Today is Insecure Writers Support Group day, a monthly blogging event hosted by the wonderful Alex Cavanaugh. On the first Wednesday of the month, participating writers are supposed to share about an insecurity they have on their blogs. 

I'd just attended the 42nd Annual SCBWI Summer Conference. This was my first big SCBWI conference; 1,000+ people came. I actually didn't have any writerly insecurities about coming to the conference.  But I did feel some uncertainty about how I would pull off a nursing/pumping regimen during the intensive, event-packed long weekend.

So before stepping into LA's Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, I established some DOs and DON'Ts for myself, which I'm happy to say that I stuck to:

1. Don't neglect my milk supply. I prefer nursing to pumping. But being away from my baby, I had to pump through most of the conference. To make this work, I skipped an event or two and occasionally showed up a little late to stuff.  In spite of the hassle that came with all that pumping, I want to tell nursing mothers who want to come to this conference that they can do it!
2. Do observe agents and editors. I wanted a better feel for who the gate keepers of the kidlit world are. So I attended keynotes and breakout sessions featuring such industry folk.
3. Do make the effort to initiate conversations. I didn't order all those business cards just to keep them sitting inside my name tag pouch the whole time. I had as much fun giving away my cards as I did receiving the cards of colleagues.
4. Don't pitch. Nothing against the idea, but I decided I didn't need to put that kind of pressure on myself.

The conference was well-organized and the keynote speeches and breakout sessions were very informative. My consultation also went well. Right now, my brain is a heavy and wet sponge dripping with tidbits of industry wisdom. Here's some of that wisdom:

From author Laurie Halse Anderson's keynote speech: "We are the antidote to the disappointing grown-ups of the world."  (I tweeted this, and my specific tweet was mentioned in a recent SCBWI blog post!)

From author Jon Scieszka's keynote speech: "I don't write books to put kids to sleep. I write to wake them up."

From editor Donna Bray's breakout session: "This is the most subjective business in the world."

One more thing. I got to meet my blog buddy and fellow kidlit writer Gina Carey in person! We sat next to each other at a couple of events and hung out at the Black & White Ball on Saturday night. It was loads of fun to connect with Gina.

For anyone who is on the fence about attending a big SCBWI conference, I just want to say that this was a very worthwhile experience for me.

Have you attended an SCBWI conference?  Which writing conferences have you attended? If you haven't attended any writing conferences, which one(s) would you like to attend?

21 comments:

T. Drecker said...

Glad you could work everything out and attend! It sounds like an amazing experience. I like the fact you weren't pushing pitching and just getting a feel for everyone. That's important too :)

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Great tips, Cynthia. Kudos to you for going while being a nursing Mom. You're an inspiration to us all!

I LOVE the SCBWI Encino Working Writer's Retreat. I've been four times. It's much more intimate than the conference and includes all your meals. It's sold out for 2013, but there's always 2014.

Suzanne Furness said...

Glad you had such a great time and combined that with being a great mom too. Happy writing :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Antidote to disappointing adults - I like that quote. Glad you had a good time and didn't overdo it.

Pat Hatt said...

Sounds like a great time indeed. Like the one about not putting kids to sleep

Natasha Hanova said...

I like your list of do's and don'ts. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Plus, it's always fun to meet people from the blogosphere in person. :-)

S.P. Bowers said...

Sounds amazing! I'm sure the initiating conversation would be very hard but worth it. I used to be a member of SCBWI a very long time ago. I maybe ought to sign up again as my current WIP is YA. I'm just not sure I'll stay in YA.

M Pax said...

I like your list. Glad you had a good conference. Cool that you got to meet a blogging buddy.

MollyMom103 said...

I love that conference. Hopefully I will return someday. I have attended many conferences. I'd like to go to Backspace, Kindlings, and my holy grail, Clarion West (technically a writing workshop.)

Pk Hrezo said...

Hey great to meet you, Cynthia! Thanks for stopping by my blog today. And how cool you went to the big one! I've been to a few regionals but never the big ones. Sounds like it was very worth your while!

Annalisa Crawford said...

It sounds like a great event. I'm determined to go to a festival/conference one day - time is a big problem for me at the moment though.

Paul R. Hewlett said...

I have never attended, but would love to. Thanks so much for sharing and congrats for sticking to your Do's & Don'ts.

Paul R. Hewlett

Tammy Theriault said...

sometimes initiating anything is scary, but in the end well worth it!

Julie Dao said...

I really need to become a member and attend one of these conferences! Sounds like it was a great experience :) I'd be a little nervous about pitching, too, but I've heard good things can happen from that!

Empty Nest Insider said...

Glad you enjoyed the conference. It was nice that you got to meet your blogging buddy. Great quote from Jon Scieszka!

Julie

posse said...

cynthia, it was nice to meet you at the conference. i just loved lin oliver and henry winkler's workshop called comedy comes from the heart. did you make it to that one?

Jill Haugh said...

Kudos to you my dear for keeping up the pumping! You rock! And how fun to hear about the conference. I hope someday I get to meet blog-buddies too!
~Just Jill

Misha Gericke said...

Sounds like so much fun to go to a conference, but I'm just too far away at the moment.

And big ups to you for keeping up with the pumping.

Gina Gao said...

It sounds fun to be able to attend a conference.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Sounds wonderful, Cynthia. Thanks for sharing those tidbits with us! I have not gone to a big conference yet, although I did attend last years SCBWI Encore event and loved it.

Gina C said...

Love this recap! I'm so behind -- but hope to jot down some thoughts on LA soon. Something about conferences overwhelms me for a few weeks after. All that great info in my drippy brain, as you put it!

It was great meeting you in person, ladybug! I want to hear more about your WIPs soon :)

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