I know the NESCBWI conference was two weeks ago. I know you've read all about it on other blogs. But humor me.
It took me a full week to absorb and appreciate the experience. Friday was beyond exhausting. Kids, house, travel, keeping on schedule, parking garage malfunctions, and THEN having a critique I was really nervous about just did me in. Immediately after my critique (mid-day Friday) I was quite ready to throw in the towel with my whole career. Yup. It's not that it went so horribly. It's just that I was tapped out. I wanted to hear the impossible, and instead I got mostly good advice. By the time Monday morning rolled around I was desperate for time to work on my picture book dummy - even if it meant taking a red pen to every aspect of it. (see image above)
The highlights of the conference for me, were (in no specific order):
Dan Yaccarino's workshop: I enjoyed it enough at the time. But when the dust settled in my brain, he shone a light on my picture book dummy that I think was the key to making it infinitely better - publishable, even. One major thing, a few little things, plus a whole lot of inspiration.
Portfolio Showcase: Seeing my portfolio out there for the first time in four years was awesome. It's nearly ALL published work. And I like a lot of it. It sorely needs more cute animals, but that's an improvement I'm happy to work on. Giving just a few little feedback cards to others was greatly rewarding too. A little birdie said there was some good response to it - and that's all you can hope for in these situations. To plant seeds, then walk away and hope something grows.
Writing Camp: I was so sad that my critique chewed up a good 25 minutes of this workshop. It was hands-on and fun. If I hadn't been so nervous about the upcoming critique, then dumbstruck, this would have been outstanding for me. Thank you Jo Knowles and Cindy Faughnan!
Friends: It was so energizing and fun to see illustrator friends. I missed last year's conference so I hadn't seen so many warm faces in nearly two years. Others I hadn't seen since the NYSCBWI conference in 2008, and still others were first encounters with people I had only talked to online. Connecting with fellow illustrators in person is beyond rewarding. And my roommate and friend Jen was a great sport for putting up with all my mommy anxieties.
Submission Strategy Consultation: This was the yin to the dummy critique's yang. Lionel Bender gave me some excellent advice. I knew in an instant that I was sitting down with a professional - and my ears were wide open. Thank you.
Maybe the best part was seeing how well my children did without me, mostly thanks to their wonderful father - next year I'm planning on going for all three days.