“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”
- Eleanor Roosevelt
“I have nothing but confidence in you, and very little of that.”
- Groucho Marx
Today is the day. Today I attend the NESCBWI Conference. I’m a volunteer at the check-in table. I also have a peer critique for the first pages of my WIP Naked Eye. I’m enduring a query critique for Aura with an agent I’m intimidated to meet for reasons I’d rather not say. (Or in this case, write.) Tonight I’ll have dinner with a writer friend, attend the party, and meet my roommate.
Tomorrow I’ll be a “handler” for a double-workshop "Social Media Tips and Tricks". I will have a ten-page critique (synopsis + 9 pages) for Aura with an unknown agent. I will attend other workshops and make small talk. I don’t know if I’ll eat dinner with anyone or be alone. And I’ll be spending the night in my room sans roommate.
And the panic is creeping in.
Sunday will be easier because I have no volunteer duties and no more critiques. I’ll be attending a double-workshop with Cynthia Lord (the author of Rules) about school visits. Of course, I don’t have an agent, let alone a book so having anything to promote is just a distant dream. But still… Cynthia Lord. Besides, it never hurts to be prepared if/when I do have a book to promote. (Please let it be when.)
Thursday was spent preparing for the conference. What to wear? I’m trying to strike the balance between professional and comfortable, youthful and appropriate. And what should be my layering piece in case it’s cold. (I have the feeling the men don’t have to agonize this much.)
Besides agonizing about my attire, I also needed to print. How many pages of my manuscripts and how many? I decided on ten pages, along with cover letters and synopses, three copies apiece of Aura and The Disappearances. Of course, I rarely have an opportunity to give them to anyone since it’s more likely an agent will tell me to mail or e-mail them. Bringing them is more like a security blanket.
What if I forget toothpaste? (Gross)
What if I forget deodorant? (Grosser)
What if I forget my flat iron? (Unthinkable)
Yesterday, my son stayed home sick. Last night, my throat felt scratchy and my nose seemed stuffy. This morning, I had schmutz in my eyes. I remembered removing a piece of gook my daughter had in her eye yesterday. Now I was sure I had pink eye. Does anyone else get paranoid they’re coming down with something before a big event?
Side story, for my first kid I went into labor at midnight. By 1:00 pm, my throat felt scratchy. I said to my husband, “I think I’m getting sick.” He replied, “You’re not getting sick. You’ve been up for over twenty-four hours and have been in labor for thirteen hours.”
The critiques will hang over my head until they’re done. I don’t expect more than critical feedback, even though I can’t help feeling the tiniest itty bit of hope. I put myself through this torture to improve my writing. Although I’ve submitted Aura for this conference, it’s not where my head is right now. I’m consumed with The Disappearances and Naked Eye. But I love Aura and I want a professional opinion on it.
I love conferences. I hate conferences. Well, I don’t really hate them; I’m just apprehensive. In one of my first blog posts*, I discussed my feelings about conferences. Each time I attend, I’m more confident. I’ve accomplished more, even if it’s not tangible like an agent or a book deal, but because I’ve learned more about writing and submitting. And I have a better manuscript to present. Conversely, each year is another that’s passed since I’ve began with little to show for it.
“How long have you been writing?”
“Do you have an agent?”
“Do you have any books published?”
This is the one arena I’d love a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
When I return home, I don’t believe I’ll report miracles, but I know I’ll learn things. Important things. And I’ll share them with you because I have something I didn’t have at any of the other conferences. A blogging community.
And if I have some time, maybe I’ll even post some updates on Facebook.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you attended any conferences? If so, which ones? How do you feel about them? Where are you in your writing career?
I’ll miss you all this weekend. Have a great one!
* Previous conference post: