Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Day After (A Post Conference Wrap Up)

I am not sure how to start this post. I thought about it while flying back and had some ideas. I should have written it then. Live and learn. 

So what do I write about? 

The conference? 

My experiences? 

What I've learned? 

The people? 

Geez, I could write about all of that for days.

Okay, lets give it a shot. No promises that this will not be a rambling mess since the jet lag has really hit me hard today. Note to myself: I need more than 3 hours sleep before I return home. I blame the kid in the room above mine for bouncing a damn ball. Hurray for hotel security. Hopefully they did not have to rough up him or her too bad. Maybe the ball went to the big dog park in the sky.

See, I told you that rambling was a possibility. Let me try to start this again.

Deep breath.


Now begin.

The day after returning home is filled with dirty laundry, puffy red eyes, a million thoughts, and a lifetime of new memories. The SCBWI LA Conference was my first national conference in over three years and my first one in LA. I've heard many stories about how great it was. Better than New York? C'mon, really? I don't think it is fair to compare them. I've love them both for different reasons. Some people think the weather is better for the LA shindig. Myself being a cold weather person, could argue for the cold streets of New York. I might be the only one arguing this point. I do live in Maine so what do you expect. The West coast was not as warm as I thought it would be. As a bonus, I did not return home with a sunburn. 

Why am I talking about the weather? 

See, ramblings.

Was this conference's experience something new and special? Yes, it was. I will not go into depth on the speakers and breakout sessions. I will give high praises to Dan Santat, Mem Fox, Molly Idle, and Kwame Alexander (that is how you give a speech!). Their workshops and keynotes were topnotch, well worth the trip alone. If you get a chance to see them or attend a workshop, please do so, You will not be disappointed. Just hearing Dan talk about his dedication to the art of creating books, Mem reading to everyone, Molly's poetic approach to visual character movement, Adam Rex moving from books to movies, and Kwame saying we all are going to experience great things, was enough to fill 100 notebooks. 

This conference was special for a different reason.

For the first time, I really got a feeling where I am in my children's book career. No longer new at this, maybe not a seasoned veteran, but major strides have been made in the three years. I have a book out that I wrote and illustrated which I am very proud of. No one would have guessed that three years ago. There are many who work so hard to do this and will never experience the feeling of their own book. Everyone should have that joy at least once. 

Now I am illustrating books for big publishers and earn a living from doing so. Again, I wish everyone who wants to do this could make a living doing so. Oh god, did this come across as bragging? I hope not. If so, I am sorry. 

While talking with Danielle, we discussed that I have more stories to tell and need to get them out. Hopefully on the printed page, with pictures  I would have never thought while attending my first conference that I would be writing as well as illustrating. It is a new territory for me to explore and learn. And so exciting! It is a new passion that holds hands with the illustration part of the process. That is what the conference can do. It can introduce you to new things and take you down paths that one has never explored or never thought of exploring. It is not about just being published, money, fame, etc., it is about finding another undiscovered voice. Your true voice, passion, and desires. The other things may come, but if not, and your are happy doing something you love, you already won. 

Making strides.

Reaching goals. 

Moving beyond boundaries.

Take in what you've learned, who you have talk to, listen to what is being said, mix it up in a beaker, and see what happens. Maybe when you attend your next conference, you can see the strides that were made.

I would like to end this post with some gushing about Danielle for a moment. It is really important to have people in your corner, helping you move along the path you desire. It is more of a like two like minded people with a common goal than a client/agent relationship. I was so excited to get to meet Danielle and the rest of Red Fox (hi Karen and Abi) in person. I cannot speak highly enough on how wonderful and welcoming they have been to me. You feel like you have known each other for a long time. Thank you for having me as part of the team.

The dryer just dinged, so it is time to fold some laundry while thinking of new story ideas.

*Please forgive any typos and grammatical errors. It is hard to type with puffy eyes.


Becca Waddell said...

This pretty much encapsulated everything I want to start to say about the conference! It was such a pleasure to meet you and so many others. What an amazing community we have.

Russ Cox said...

It was such a pleasure to meet you as well.

Christine Fleming said...

Great post, Russ! This is pretty much how I feel too—especially the puffy eyes! It's so nice to feel like we're growing and taking steps towards our goals! I can't wait to pick up a copy of your book, and it was so nice to finally meet you in person! :D

Dow said...

Congratulations on how far you've come, Russ!

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