Two weeks ago, I intended to write a post on a previous experience at an SCBWI conference in 2010, a post describing how terrifying and demoralizing it was for me, and therefore how nervous I was growing about the impending SCBWI Carolinas Conference. Instead, I chose to be more positive and did not write the blog post, keeping my apprehensions to myself.
I attended the SCBWI Carolinas 2014 Conference over the weekend, and subsequently, have a very different blog post to write. And yes, “subsequently” is one of my favorite words, not only because of the nice qu in it, but because it cues the reader that something is happening or changing.
The conference was filled with remarkable faculty and members. I don’t know which I learned more from, and so it’s safest to just say that I learned a great deal. Not only did I learn about the trade and business of writing, but (because I was brave enough to sign up for a critique) I learned more about myself too! I was challenged to add new angles to my illustrations, stronger voice to my writing and laughter in my work. I was transfixed by simplicity and truth in Carrie Ryan’s keynote address, calling writers to write. The conference came and went quickly, and I grew.
In 2010, I ended the conference in tears. I slid between the soda machine and the wall, the most private place I could quickly find to cry my eyes out. I sobbed with my head against the gentle rumble of the Coca-Cola machine, telling myself I would never be good enough. Weeping with self-pity that my little dreams couldn’t come true, and that I would always be mediocre.
In 2014, I drove away from the conference in tears. My vision was blurred as I merged onto I-77, heading for home. I quickly put on my sunglasses to shed my tears privately, away from the eyes of passing drivers. The voices of the conference speakers resonated within me, my heart surged with the rush of revived determination. I will write, I will write something worth reading, and someday I will be published.
In earlier years, I simply wasn’t prepared to receive and implement the input and challenges of others. Instead they bore down on me, a rolling boulder, squashing my hopes because I simply wasn’t ready to embrace the required changes to my life. The challenges to rewrite, rework, revisit, revise; to improve one’s self in this way takes no small measure of bravery and commitment.
Fortunately, time does change people. I changed. I grew. I had a “subsequently” in my life and it propelled me forward to greet the writer I hope to become. As I drove from the conference yesterday, I saw a glimmer of that writer far in the distance and promised to run towards her everyday.