George is about a kid who sees herself as a girl, while the
rest of the world sees her as a boy. When her fourth grade teacher announces
their class play will be Charlotte’s Web, George wants to be cast as the role
of Charlotte. Whether or not George gets the part of Charlotte isn’t what is
most important to the story. The heart of this story is George’s need for her
family and friends to see her truest self. This is a book about bravery,
self-discovery, and the desire to live an authentic life.
Over the years, I’ve listened to many speakers at
writing conferences suggest the following:
“Say hi to strangers!”
“Bring business cards!”
Whenever I heard this advice, I’d think, “Yeah
right.” I’d tell myself, “I’m never getting business cards." I’d repeat my
mantra, “I’m only here to learn about the craft of writing.”
Not surprisingly, I was that person who sat alone. I’d take a ton of notes and I never went to social events.
By doing this, I closed myself off to one of the best things about conferences.
Meeting people who love books.
So, at a recent SCBWI Writers’ Day I tried
something different. During the breaks, I talked. I talked about my writing but more than that, I talked about my life. I talked about the difficulty I
have balancing my kids and my work. I talked about my love of the Red Sox. I
talked about the books I’m reading.
And then the coolest thing happened. People talked
back. I had the pleasure of listening to others tell me about their work and their
For the most part, the things I feared (I won’t
know what to say, the conversation will feel forced, I have no idea how to
network) didn’t happen. Because every time I spoke with someone, I reminded
myself this person might be feeling a little nervous, too.
Did I network perfectly? No. Did I talk too fast?
Yes. Did I accidentally interrupt? Yes. Did I over-share and make one or two
people uncomfortable? Probably.
But you know what? I’m glad I put myself out there.
For me, writing is all about getting the words on the page, letting myself make
mistakes, and then going back in and making sense of it. Maybe networking is
kind of like the same thing.
The SCBWI Summer Conference in Los
Angeles is only a few weeks away. I’ve attended this conference every summer since 2009 and it never
ceases to inspire me. Here are a few quotes I’ve collected over the years.
"Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Let go of the outcome."
"Take care of your writer self." -Gennifer Choldenko