Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm not an Idiot!

I was nervous.

Nervous enough that I felt anxiety and sweat; tears in my eyes. What if they know I'm a fake? What if they see that I have no idea what I am doing and I feel awed to be in the presence of real writers? I had never been to a writing conference before, and had I been, I would have known my fears were pretty ridiculous.

I walked into the building and approached the registration desk. Yes! They had my name. Ooh! A name tag! All fancy-schmancy, too. Down the hallway there were rows and rows of tables full of publisher information. "We accept unsolicited manuscripts" here and "we no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts" there; I picked up dozens, but didn't get to see the other tables --a college friend saw me! Recognized me! It's been almost three years, give or take, since we've seen each other (her parents are in my ward). Hooray! A familiar face. We went to a few mingles and the main plenary session together. We parted for the break-out sessions and I wondered if I'd see her the next day.

I enjoyed Four glorious writing hours. I learned about voice, character, plot, conflict, beginnings, picture books, endings, editing, submitting, rejection, acceptance; realizing I was one of hundreds of I-wanna-be-a-writers! I was not alone. I was one of many. I had good ideas, too; at one point, there was a free write for five minutes. The topic was "Going into a High School Dance." I wrote this (longhand):

The grey doors were open and music fit for a night of teen love spilled out with the blue and red lights. Sarah told me they had sprung for a Disco ball. Somehow, I didn't think it would matter. I mean, it was still the high school gymnasium. I had heard stories from my cousins of high school proms being held inside big hotels with fancy tables, but not here. I glanced over to the refreshment table and saw the homemade brownies. Homemade Brownies?! Paul took my arm and led me to the dance floor. Above the floor and next to the Disco Ball were streamers. Seriously? Streamers? I sighed.

I shared it with my class. People liked it. They actually laughed; they nodded.
Huzzah! I'm not an idiot! Who knew?
So, yeah, yesterday was awesome. For those who care, the classes I attended were these:

"Editors Love You" by Martha Mihalick (Assoc. Editor, Greenwillow Books --imprint of HarperCollins)
"How to Find Your Voice, or, in the Words of a Rejection Letter, How to Not 'Write Like an Adult Trying Very Hard to Sound Like a Teenager'." by Ann Dee Ellis (YA author)
"Less is More: Revising Your Picture Book" by Lisa Wheeler (Picture book author)

I took loads of notes (long hand. Didn't even use the laptop; I am NOT bringing it today. Can you imagine me, loaded down with a huge bag, notebooks, manuscripts, the laptop, etc.? I learned the hard way; all I need is pen and paper!).

Afterwards, I did a much needed Costco run and then went to dinner with my family (and mom, sister, BIL and nephews). It was a long day! Very long. Considering the cleaning I did in the morning before my mom got here, I would say I've had the busiest and craziest day since moving. But it was extremely satisfying. Peaceful, even, if you can believe that!

I will admit, though, dear reader, that I missed you. I really did. I hope you are doing well and writing beautiful things on your blog and having a great time in your particular corner of the world. Too sappy? Perhaps. But you guys rock! (or, as in the words of Mother of the Wild Boys, You guys Rocketh!)


Cristy said...

So cool Cheryl! This will be a great week for you. Something for CHERYL to feel like CHERYL. I need to do something like that. I get invited to film things once in a while, and I'm always a little scared to go... I just don't know what I'd say to all the people I used to know "Hi, I'm a Mom. You know, doing that thing we've been commanded to do. How's Hollywood?" I hope you find lots of information that will get you inspired and out there!

Amanda D said...

Oh, cheryl, it sounds so great! I'm so glad that you get the chance to do this. I hope you'll share the rest of the dance story with us when it is done!

Desi said...

This sounds like sso much fun. I hope you continue to share your experiences there.

Do they hold this conference every year? I've never aspired to be an author, but it sounds like a great way to improve my writing!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed yourself! Have fun the rest of the workshop!

And of course you're not an idiot!

Ann said...

Yay! I'm so glad you had a great time and that your great writing skills were validated! I hope today goes even better!

The Motherboard said...

That sounds like heaven to me!


Jumbo Shrimp said...

Glad you had such a great time! Have fun the rest of the week!

Jill said...

Sounds way fun to me!

Janelle said...

Cheryl:writing as Janelle:?

I wonder what type of conference I would like to attend and just be overflowing with happiness about improving my skill.

Hmph, I really don't know. Maybe I should start by searching out a skill.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Thanks for perpetuating my soon-to-be blog vocabulary phenomenon "rocketh"! :)

That sounds like an awesome day, and I loved the dance story.

Jeanette said...

Sounds like a great day.
I thought the dance story was really good and wonder where it would go if you had more than 5 minutes!