Thursday, August 11, 2011

After the Conference....

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...

Libba Bray:
"Embrace the suck"
"Getting it wrong is a necessary part of getting it right"
"Avoid the quicksand of irrational fear"

Judy Blume:
"It never gets any easier"

Richard Jesse Watson:
"Some of the best things come out of play"

Gary Paulsen:
"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"

Richard Peck:
"Read like the wolf eats"

And here are some of my "notes"...


  1. This is such a great post Brooke!! I completely understand you. At my first conference I was horribly awkward. Also, I love your Libba Bray quote, "Getting it wrong is a necessary part of getting it right". So great!

  2. I can still feel the "spin and whorl" of my creative seed. I think it sped up after the conference! We didn't get to meet, but I thought your portfolio was so lovely.

    After four days of high-speed social connected-ness, I've retreated back to the cool quiet of home alone with baby. It's nice to recharge. :)

  3. Reading posts like this have me absolutely convinced I need to go to the LA conference next year!

    And I hear you on the social awkwardness, I'm very much in the same boat, especially as a freelancer. I was teased MERCILESSLY as a teenager and new social situations to this day can cause extreme anxiety. It gets easier with the conferences, but I relate to what you're saying. :-)

  4. I absolutely adore your work, so it was so wonderful meeting you at the Portfolio Showcase. I found you to be as delightful in person as your illustrations. I didn't detect any social awkwardness. I missed the 'running over' part. I most likely was blocking traffic lost in my own thoughts as I'm pron to be. Hopefully, we have a chance to hang out more at a future conference someday. Oh, and I love your conference sketches! So fabulous!

  5. I'm so happy that you are inspired and "boldified!" The conference sounds like it was a great experience. And I'd just like to remind you that you are definitely one of the prom queens, too Brooke!!

  6. awww I love this post!! It makes me all excited for when one day I'll get to go to a book/illustration conference! I can see you walk away with so much and don't worry the social awkwardness is something we all struggle with when meeting new (especially when meeting our heroes!) people

    Thanks for sharing us your experience and loved your notes :)

  7. I had posted on this back in August- I don't know if you got it... Should we both be in LA again- we shall have dinner. You will find out- I never went to my prom and I'm about as big a geek as you are. I thin your new website looks so Marvy!