My husband and I got home from L.A. yesterday. When I finally made it to bed at about 2am, I was exhausted but I couldn't sleep. I was too excited. My mind was too busy processing this past weekend.
There are lots of tidbits that I took away from the conference, but there are two ideas that are burning in my heart.
The first is that I'm in love with books again. Don't get me wrong, I've always been in love with books. I wouldn't be pursuing this particular career path if I wasn't. But after listening to amazing keynote speeches by Bruce Coville, Libba Bray, David Small, Gary Paulsen, Judy Blume (!), Richard Peck, (and others) and after an especially inspiring breakout session with Marla Frazee and Allyn Johnston, I am wildly, deeply, passionately in love with books again. I was reminded over and over of all that a good book can do for a child. And I am in love.
The second idea is something that I already knew, but that I needed to be reminded of. And that is that we have to do the work. We aspiring illustrators and authors must go above and beyond. We must be persistent and dedicated. We must be bold. I haven't felt especially bold in the past, but today I am brimming with boldness. The kind of boldness that burns quietly and will help me to persist through rejection.
Something else I discovered at the conference is that my darn social awkwardness has gotten a wee bit out of control. It seems that the last few months of sitting alone in my basement studio, often going days without having an actual conversation with anyone but my husband and my cat, have taken their toll. I'm pretty sure that I was inadvertently a bit rude to a few people.
Often, when I meet someone whose work I admire, I revert to highschool. They are the cool, popular, friendly, pretty girl, and I wear a head gear to class and am obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons. Kelly Light, you are the much loved prom queen, I'm in the chess club. Therefore when I wanted to tell you how much I like your "Smiley Family" project, and to chat with you about art, I stared nervously at my sketchbook instead. Stephanie Roth Sisson, sorry that I ran off without finishing our conversation. I would have liked to chat with you more. Angela Matteson, it was so nice to finally meet you in person! I'm sorry for nearly running you over on the way out of the illustrator's intensive. Dang it. Also, I over think things, so maybe these people didn't even notice.
I occassionally managed to work through the awkward and made some new friends, like Jessica Bagley and Lisa Anchin. Hooray for new friends!
The conference was wonderful and I am ready to work. To really hunker down and work. So, that's what I'm going to do now. But first, I wrote down lots of quotes over the weekend. Here are some of my favorites...
"Embrace the suck"
"Getting it wrong is a necessary part of getting it right"
"Avoid the quicksand of irrational fear"
"It never gets any easier"
Richard Jesse Watson:
"Some of the best things come out of play"
"Its like Mardi Gras, but I didn't see any breasts"
"Reading became a way to breathe for me"
"I will write til I die"
"Read like the wolf eats"
And here are some of my "notes"...