Monday, August 2, 2010

My first SCBWI conference...a.k.a. What It Felt Like To Be A Real Writer For 48 Hours

It's been awhile since I've posted as summer has hit and I've been in mommy mode rather than up to my neck in query letters and writing and revising (and revising again) the synopsis and the novel. At this moment, I am entering week 8 of a 6-8 week window of hearing back from an agent who has my full manuscript, and got to meet him at my first SCBWI conference and told him "Dude, you owe me a manicure - I've bitten off all my fingernails," which, thankfully, made him laugh.

The SCBWI conference was amazing. I met so many incredible authors doing exactly what I want to do, and hearing their individual stories of the road to get where they are today echoed my own, which gave me lots of hope. I attended some amazing panels and breakout sessions led by bestselling YA authors and top agents, and garnered information that was invaluable and I will put to use every time I sit down in front of my computer to write for the rest of my life. But most of all...for 48 hours...I felt like a real writer. I cannot recommend this experience enough to any writer at any stage of their career. The people I met were so welcoming, despite the fact that they were all published and enjoying their respective successes. They were absolute cheerleaders for where I was at, having been there not so long ago themselves. A couple offered up referrals to their agents, which can make all the difference in the world for getting one's foot in the proverbial door. The key to any real success, the kind that really matters and makes you well respected within your community of peers, is remembering the importance of paying it forward. Sitting amongst a sea of 1100+ people, all doing or wanting to do exactly what I've wanted to do all my life, I felt exhilarated, inspired and all the more motivated to thicken my skin and press on, because if they can do it, why can't I?

I woke up today and sent out six more query letters (and got one rejection back right off the top but that's okay!) I realized I can't just sit around waiting for things to unfold, I have to press on and be proactive, and much like throwing pasta against the wall, eventually something is bound to stick.

Now my mind is swirling with ideas for the next book. Originally I intended to write a YA romance/road trip book but now my mind is buzzing with ideas for a middle grade story, as that seems to be the newest trend the marketplace is hungry for. That said, I'm not one who ever really wants to chase trends - I write because I can't not write. I write the stories I want to read, the kind of stories I loved as a kid about real kids in contemporary settings that I could relate to, that made me laugh, that made me root for them, that gave me hope. When I wrote as a kid, I never wrote for others - I wrote for myself, and the words flowed. It's tempting to write for others - but at the end of the day, I think we need to write for ourselves, the stories we NEED to tell and want to tell, because that authentic voice will shine through.