Monday, August 13, 2007

Mary's Take: More Pearls from SCBWI National

It's been great fun visting blogs this week and reading about other people's experiences at Nationals. Though we all attended the same conference, we each left with such different things.

In conference years past, I've taken reams of notes and handouts and freebies and business cards and lengthy lists of all the books I want to read the first hot second I get home. I've literally sucked the marrow from the bone, then earnestly picked my teeth so as not to miss a mini-morsel.

This year, while I wanted to immerse, I also wanted to be more discerning and intentional. I planned to pace myself, rebalance from the demands of my day job, and sit in a quiet place of observation and gratitude. Oh, yeah, and try to breathe and not freak out that I was going to do my first workshop at Nationals. Like in front of people and everything, for god's sake.

Here are the pearls that I've brought home with me:

From "Self Branding for Writers & Illustrators" with Priscilla Burns and Marilyn Scott-Waters. "If you try to be everything, you end of being nothing." Also memorable from this session was a bizarre snafu with their Power Point, so the following slide would not stop coming up. It is imprinted on my mind. It's attributed to Ray Bradbury. "Dream yourself bigger than you have been dreaming yourself." Wow, you know? How many of us do that? Let's start now. G-O.

I loved the "Writing the GLBTQ (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Questioning) Book" session with Ellen Wittinger, who I now have on my list of People I Truly Adore. I went into the session questioning whether the hets (aka "straight" folk) should/could be writing books with GLBTQ characters. I left convinced. Uh, yes! Ellen spoke passionately about starting with the universal core of the character, and adding the layers that include gender, preferences, family, culture, etc. And doing the necessary research so that you can create as authentic voice as possible. I'm going to write her a very sappy fan letter when I finish this blog tonight.

John Green is probably feeling like the Most Popular Boy at the Conference judging by the number of odes sung to him in various blogs. I'll add mine because he deserves it. This nugget got me in the solar plexus. "Writing is as much translation as creation." And, "... the truth does not lie in the facts. It lies in the people." Finally, he referenced the concept of "radical hope" a number of times, and I'll just leave that with you. The combination of those two words makes me feel a bit breathless. There is a combustible quality to them. John, if you're reading this, could you tell me where this comes from? I'll send you one of our nifty Shrinking Violet mugs if you click here. I'm quite certain you don't have one yet. :-]

Finally, here are just a few other things that I loved about Summer Conference. And, topping the list are my gorgeous writing group buds my Fairy Godmother Lee Wardlaw and Thalia Chaltas, author of the soon to be released YA novel in poems, Furniture, Viking, 2008.

~*~ Meeting Cynthia Leitich Smith in the flesh! She is as remarkable and generous as I guessed and hoped she would be.

~*~ Seeing a pal that didn't think she was going to get to come, but at the last minute her Fairy Godmother gifted her the trip and she was ever so happy and it was the coolest thing EVER!(Yes, I have had a lot of diet coke this afternoon! You can tell by the number of !!!! points I'm using.)

~*~ Seeing a woman in a T-shirt that read "I Prefer to Consider Myself Pre-Published". Awesome.

~*~ Having the One and Only Sue Alexander in my class. Wow. Signing a book for her. Wow to the n-thiest power.

And, bringing us all the way back around to Marketing for Introverts, a-hem, a final thought. In the gestalt kind of place that I worked to inhabit during the conference, I was struck by the absolute diversity of speakers and styles. I'm sure that Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser select their faculty with that in mind.

And yet, we tend to think that there is only ONE WAY to promote yourself and your work. How can that be?? How can you take this great diverse mix of people and expect that they should all do it the same way? Makes not sense whatsoever. That's all I'm saying. Least for now. :->

Later, friends--



Stephanie J. Blake said...

Thanks for your wonderful workshop--Funny Bones at SCBWI LA. I loved every minute of it (except the people who couldn't sit still in the back! You were great! And I'm sure you knew that because the room was packed. I didn't get to talk to you that day, but I've found my signature topics!
Stephanie Blake

Mary Hershey said...

Dear Stephanie,

I'm SO glad you enjoyed the workshop, and more importantly, I'm thrilled to hear you got a hit on your funny bone!

Very cool-- do keep me posted on where that takes you, will you?


Anonymous said...

Mary, it was ever-so-cool sitting in your workshop . . . you were prepared, professional, polished, patient, phunny (okay, so I couldn't think of a word that means 'funny' that begins with a P) and pretty! And your formula for unearthing our very own funny bone(s) was brilliant. Thanks for a workshop where we actually worked - - and enjoyed every second of it. Will you be MY fairy godmother?! Love, Lee

Stephanie J. Blake said...

Missed seeing you in 2008 at the con.

I just wanted you to know that a bit of the writing I worked on at your humor workshop is now officially part of my novel, which is with an editor at FSG.

thank you.