Monday, April 8, 2013

Best. Conference. Ever.

This weekend was my local region SCBWI's annual conference.  They call it Spring Spirit, and it really is a wonderful way to get that bright, new inspiration into my writing.

Spring Spirit 2008 was the first writing conference I ever attended.  The amazing Kirby Larson gave the keynote address.  She made me want to leap up out of my seat and dance.  She made me want to run home and write my heart out.  And I did.

This year, our keynote speaker was supposed to be the fabulous Richard Peck.  But due to an unfortunate series of events, he couldn't make it.  I received a phone call from our amazing regional advisor, Patricia Newman.  It went like this.  "Hello, Katy?  This is Patti.  I have a problem."  She then asked me if I could fill in for Richard Peck (!!) during one of the novel track breakout sessions.  I'd recently talked to groups of seventh graders about historical fiction and how to put the real into a story.  So I expanded my presentation and found myself in the main conference hall at 11:20 on Saturday morning, facing a microphone and about fifty writers.

I'm a little afraid of microphones.  I'd never given this presentation before.  I couldn't decide if I was starving or needing to throw up.  But I gave my presentation (even getting a few laughs in the right places!) and then got to go to lunch (turns out I was hungry.)

It was then that I met a fan.  A real fan.  A woman who was raised on Tudor history.  Who had recently decided she wanted to write for kids.  Who said she loved my book.  Who was delighted that Richard Peck hadn't made it because it meant she got to meet me.

My friends love my book.  My family loves my book.  My editor loves my book.  But I've never had a complete stranger approach me in person to tell me how deeply my characters touched her.  It meant the world and more.  She is my hero, in more ways than one.

This experience taught me two things:

Do it.  Even when you're afraid.  Amazing things can come of it.


Tell others how much you love their work.  Online.  In person.  I've just started learning to do this.  I used to think, "They know how good they are!" but sometimes we all need to hear it.  Mine came at just the right time.  So again, I have to remind myself: don't be afraid.  Amazing things can come of it.  It means the world.