Monday, April 12, 2010

In the Trenches...After Being in the Trenches

Today, I taught in tennis shoes. The sleeves of my sweatshirt were pushed up, and my hair was pulled back in a ponytail. By 9:30, I had chased a(bad) cup of coffee with Diet Coke on ice.

A half-hour later, I was in front of 30 eager community college writing students, denying my exhaustion to share what I'd learned over the weekend at the SCBWI Western Washington Illustrators/Writers Conference. So between each pair of students I'd set a different postcard from a conference illustrator's portfolio sample.

Our class opened with a quickwrite. The students each had to tell the story behind the postcard. After they revised, they read to their postcard partner.

Of course, the stories were wildly different. Is there any better way than art to prove plural perspectives? It's all about interpretation.

After two classes, I was wiped out.

I can't begin to imagine the hours of work the Conference committee puts in to pull off a show like that--and to make it look as smooth as it does.

This year was abundant with inspiring writers and artists, agents and editors. Wasn't this blue just invented for author Mitali Perkins?Mitali's keynote was another good reminder of having faith in vision and voice.

And here's fan-favorite teacher/librarian Chadwick Gillenwater. That guy was all smiles 48 hours straight. I loved him even though he wouldn't spill how I could get a "Diva" name tag like his.

I posted this previously, but she's so noteworthy, I'll say it again: Egmont editor Elizabeth Law rocks. I mean, what New York editor just plops down at your lunch table and asks what you want to know? "L-Bone" is witty and real, and she lives for "Glee." Just don't submit anything about dreams to her.

Jordan Brown, HarperCollins editor, is also pretty awesome. He plugged and plugged and plugged the success writer's achieve by taking risks in their work.

Clarion Editor Lynne Polvino took a big plunge, herself--by suggesting that before the recession, the children's book market was overpublished. Interesting...

Harvey Klinger agent Sara Crowe was brave, too. She courageously left a nine-month old at home in New York to share her wisdom with us: to really know our characters.

And new-to-California agent Michael Bourret? If he'd let me, I'd be his best friend.

Arree Chung won the Art Award for his fantastic creations, including this ninja:

I could've used today to re-read my pages and pages of notes. I could've re-written some scenes, revised some plot points, taken some risks and refined my vision.

But I had to wait till tomorrow.

Because today, in tennies, I was in the trenches.

And, it was good.


Arree Chung said...

Hi Jennie!

It was great meeting you too at the conference; wonderful blog! Wow, I learned lots at the conference, keep up the great work, writing, teaching and being a mom. :)

anjie said...

Leave the tennies in the trenches today - and pull out those brown plaid slippers!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'm so jealous. One of these days I'll make it to a conference. When I do, I'm going to soak up every single detail. :-)

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, that sounds like the most amazing conference ever. I'm so jealous over Elizabeth Law! I *heart* her.

Jennie Englund said...

Arree & Anj, you two were up early (or late)!

Yes, Shannon and Elana: that conference was FAB, and I was lucky to go!