The SCBWI Winter Conference was this past weekend, so I packed up my portfolio and spent 3 days at the Hyatt Grand Central absorbing as much as possible and meeting some really amazing and talented people along the way. A total of 999 illustrators and writers were there, from 17 different countries. I was lucky to only have to travel about 60 blocks and a few avenues over to get there!
The conference is overwhelming in the way that it is so much inspiration and information packed into a very short time. Buttttt that is the best kind of overwhelming ever! Lectures from Shaun Tan, The Brothers Hilts, Meg Rosoff, Mo Willems and Barbara McClintock particularly moved me. I have a notebook filled with incredible quotes about the power of the word and art and why creating for children is such an important job. After this conference, I can genuinely say I want more than ever to write and illustrate for children.
Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton spoke on the last day. Julie Andrews. JULIE ANDREWS. I have very mixed opinions on celebrities and their children's books, as do pretty much every writer and illustrator. Julie, however, is an exception. First of all, she's not a celebrity. She's Mary Poppins. She has been writing for ages, has respect for the craft, and even has some published under the name Julie Edwards. She also works with her daughter, and their lecture was so filled with love and inspiration, that when I had the opportunity to speak with them I told them that they made me want to call my mother to say I love her! And Julie responded that it was "the warmest compliment a peer could give" and then I just stood there staring at her, because Julie Andrews spoke to me.
Coming back from the conference is kinda surreal. It feels like I checked out of normal life for 3 days. All of a sudden here I am with a zillion emails to catch up, a billion postcards of peers who have sites and blogs that I can't wait to visit, and a mind overflowing with ideas I'm eager to get started on.
If you are an aspiring Children's book writer and/or illustrator, I highly recommend joining the SCBWI and attending a conference. It's a really fantastic, supportive organization that can help you get steps closer to reaching your career goals. This past weekend I made a bunch of new friends that I plan on keeping in close contact with and I know we will cheer each other along the publishing path! I am preparing posts soon to share some of their work.
My mother-in-law adores the work of Mo Willems. Here I am with him as he signs a few books for her:
The Brothers Hilts' book, The Insomniacs, by Karina Wolf, is one of the most beautiful children's books I've ever seen. You must, must, must watch the trailer for the book:
Watching people view my work was really fun. Here's a photo from the portfolio showcase:
And that's a wrap! It was a creative whirlwind and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of it.
PS thanks to my husband for going to Barnes & Noble and picking up all the books on my to-get-signed list! And for waking up early with me every day to make coffee. He's the best.