Well, not all of you. I got to spend a lot of time with a few fabulous people including Cici Pena, Tracy Clark, Lisa Gail Green, Ara Burkland, and Leah Epstein, and a little time with a lot of other writers I've met through blogging. I was delighted to make amazing new friends.
Of course, I went to Los Angeles to learn. Simply put, I'm not sure anyone could go to an SCBWI conference without learning. There were 17 panels and keynote presentations, and 61 intensives (not including the premium workshops). That made choosing what to attend the hardest part of every day. Sharing the decision with friends gave us all the chance to divide and conquer. Which says a lot about the quality of the programming. Instead of taking every opportunity to meet with friends from all across the country, we were using our friendships to have extra opportunities to learn.
Fortunately, Alice Pope and the SCBWI blog team have done a brilliant job reporting on all the intensives and keynotes. Whether you missed the session because you attended a different intensive, or because you couldn't make it to Los Angeles at all, reading their posts will give you the critical information.
What the posts can't convey is the amount of energy and inspiration that fills you as you're surrrounded by so many brilliant people. A post can't tell you what happens after hours, or before the first keynote of the day.
I'll give you my serious, personal take-aways from the conference in our regular Monday post next week, and we have a few guest bloggers who will present for us, too. For now, I want to share some of the less serious things I learned:
- Inspiration can strike at any time during an SCBWI conference. Bring paper.
- California in August is NOT warmer than Virginia. Wear sweaters.
- The half-portion salad in the Hyatt restaurant is not only smaller than a breadbox, it's actually smaller than a bread plate. Buy snacks for your room.
- Leaving a 25-lb box of prunes and a shopping bag of Pepcid AC in an empty bar booth during a writer's conference is a cheap way to spark creativity.
- Agents brave enough to attend an SCBWI wine and cheese event should be provided with bodyguards. And whips and chairs.
- Revelers wearing a costume to the Heart and Soul Ball deserve applause. People who choose to disco at the ball may wish, in future, to avail themselves of the opportunity to attend incognito.
- Anything written under the influence of friends and Prosecco will sound worse the next morning.
- Attending an SCBWI conference will result in at least one must-go-write-right-this-minute moment. Friends of said writers are hereby thanked for their patience and understanding.
Each of the conferences has its unique flavor and the SCBWI team works hard to achieve a flawless event. The New York conference feels a little more rushed, but I loved the chance to hear work from other writers at the Friday critique sessions. The Los Angeles conference is more relaxed, but the intensives seemed more densely packed with information. At both events, getting feedback from agents and editors is beyond price.
Did you go to either of the conferences? What was your favorite moment? If you didn't make it this year, do you attend your local SCBWI events? Do you find them worth the time and money?