The one here in Austin, mind you. Not that I would've complained at all about making a jaunt up to NYC. But it just so happens that we have a ton of really talented and prolific writers right here, in our own neighborhood.
Since then, I've been thinking through all the information, going back through my furiously-scrawled notes, and most importantly, working on my own writing.
Some of the time I write at the coffee shop, some of the time at the library, and some of the time in my office-- where I can see the infamous wall of rejections any time I want.
I've also been feeling really inspired, and I wish there were a non-cheesy way to say that.
One of the agents who spoke at the conference, Mark McVeigh, said something that I heard as a challenge. He said (along with a bunch of other really helpful things), "Try to write outside your genre-- Rub your Muse the wrong way and potentially free yourself up."
I took that on and decided to write my first children's book. Which sparked the dreaded question, "Did you illustrate it as well?" The answer? "No." But still! It was a pretty big deal. I'm thinking of writing a children's book every week or so, just for fun, while I'm revising my YA novel. Because... well, why not? Apparently my Muse likes to learn new tricks.
I also loved everything Kirby Larson, author of Hattie Big Sky, a 2007 Newbery Honor Book, had to say.
Her session was called "First You Throw Away the Map." I mean, come on-- how great is that?
She talked about her story, her process, how there isn't one right process, and she offered some really practical wisdom as well.
When she began to talk about how writing equals hard work, it's like I felt the NYSE bells go off in my head.
She quoted Madeline l"Engle: "The moment of inspiration isn't a moment. It must be worked for."
and Samuel Goldwyn: "The harder I work, the luckier I get."
That was the second of about 127 things I needed to hear at the SCBWI conference. It made me come back to my computer, and dig back into my writing. It was just what I needed. Like that Cars song that sold its soul to a last-ditch Circuit City ad campaign.
I've got a ton of notes from the conference, WAY too many to include here, but please email me if you'd like my notes from any of the sessions. (Other than the illustrators' session. I did not attend that one-- as I said already, I'm not an illustrator, and the world thanks me.)
P.S. Here's the other thing about my wall of rejections. Even if they were all rejections in the end, quite a lot of them started as requests-- for partial or full manuscripts, so seriously! If that won't motivate me to keep working hard and writing, I don't know what will.