NJ SCBWI Conference 2014

Illustrator Floyd Cooper teaches us how to use negative space to create a painting.

So I’m back from a recent SCBWI conference in New Jersey. Can I just say, wow! Action packed. I’m still processing it. Some people call it conference hangover ūüėČ The travel alone was an adventure. A quick recap on that. I took a plane from Detroit, but my first flight was cancelled. I had to shuttle over to another terminal to check in a second time with another airline. I then took a taxi to the hotel because it was too late to take the train. On the way back, I took the hotel shuttle to the train station. Then had to take another shuttle to the airport. Then another shuttle at the airport to my terminal. Then the plane ride back. All while carrying a backpack, an art portfolio, and a small suitcase. But was it worth it? Yes! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

This conference focused a lot on illustration. I appreciated the¬†chance to take actual mini art classes as well as attend lectures. We also had a lot of¬†opportunities¬†to connect with industry professionals. Yet the conference had an intimate setting, which was nice. Sometimes you feel like a small fish in a big pond at these types of events. But NJ, it’s like my sister group now.

There’s a lot I could share with you here, but I think what would be most valuable would be to share some quotes from the final keynote speaker, Rachel Vail.¬† She wrote an adorable picture book called Piggy Bunny and a middle grade series about a worrier named Justin Case.¬† (Get it?¬† Just in case…LOL)

She said she learned that bravery isn’t the opposite of worry.¬† (Translation: It’s acting in the face of worry.)

Vail also shared a wonderful Van Gogh quote that I’d never heard before.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

Other advice:

1. Beware of nice lunches.  (They might serve bad news with a smile.)

2. You can survive ground zero.  (Translation: You can start over.  Revise your entire manuscript.  Fix your painting.  Write another book.)

3. Sometimes you have to chip away at your creation with your fingernails.

4. Listen to children.¬† (They have their own stories to tell.¬†¬†Let them know they matter.¬† Try to remember the first adult who listened to you…)

I remember being like Justin Case.  Thinking and worrying.  Imagining.  Quietly observing.  My grandfather listened and taught me about poetry and art.  My grandmother listened and taught me piano lessons.

Did it make a difference?  Yes.  Do I still worry?  Sometimes.  But am I also brave?  People tell me so.

My wish for you:¬† Go forth and be brave!¬† But you have my permission to worry, too.¬† It’s the¬†secret ingredient that leads to success when coupled with action.¬† May your worries fuel your creative work.¬† YOU can make it happen!

 

 

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