When I boarded my flight for the 2017 SCBWI Summer Conference, my prayer was that I would come back better than I left, loving my craft more, and be filled with...something...that would infuse my tired artwork. (I apologize, in advance, for any typo's, but not the ramblings of excitement!)
The conference was aahhhhmazing The Keynote speakers and breakout sessions were the best I have ever heard. I have pages and pages of written notes recording the gold nuggets of motivation that encouraged me. I am still experiencing "inspiration overdrive" with a promise it will stick around for a while.
Find Your Tribe
The journey of writing and illustrating for children is not meant to do alone. I connected with my original 2016 LA tribe and I saw our group grow this year. Being part of this community...this family...is everything. During our "rooftop" portfolio critique (this is a new yearly tradition!) I had the best review ever! And yes! I am absolutely gutting 90% of my portfolio and creating new art. Here's a piece of advice: Be brave! Be fearless and stretch yourself. Never stop learning, creating or dreaming BIG!
The Greatest Takeaway
I can't save this for the end because, for me, it's like a new beginning. My greatest takeaway was not received at the conference. It was given to me on the flight home, from Houston to Raleigh, by the 6 year old African American girl who sat by me on the plane. While she played her iPad games, squirmed, and covered up with her blanket to make a tent, I observed. I made notes, incorporating what I learned from my conference heroes, like Vanessa Newton, Leuyen Pham and Alexandra Penfold. This sweet little girl read my book dummy "Hoot!" TO ME and excitedly told her mom that I wrote the words and "did all the pictures" and "mom, she shared it with me!"
When we got up to exit the plane, "KK" gave me a big hug. I haven't been the same since. That moment was priceless and one I will never forget. God created all of us with a purpose and talents to make this earth a better place. Her unselfish gesture tells me I'm heading in the right direction.
The notes that follow, here and those to come, are my gift to you, because they were a gift to me.
Hokey Pokey Anonymous is a Place to Turn Yourself Around
Vanessa Newton started the conference off with an amazing keynote...and the hokey pokey! We are going to be faced with adversity in life, including running in to it with the work we create. So what do you do with faced with adversity? You put your whole self in, shake it off and pack it under! Lean in to it, learn from it and move on. Here are highlights from Vanessa's keynote and breakout sessions:
That's it for Part One of conference takeaways. Stay tuned for Part Two later this week when I share comments from LeuYen Pham. Until then, be an ambassador of good vibes!
Deb Johnson is an illustrator and writer for the children's market. She loves character designing and story weaving...and is excited to see what God is knitting together in the process!