I won! I won! I won! I won the joke contest!!!!!!!!!!
First thing this morning they announced three winners and my Saggy Baggy Elephant joke was one of them! I won a gift certificate to the conference bookstore! My mama always told me I was funny and that I ought to write these things down! I had only actually submitted that one and the Humpty Dumpty one, and there were over a thousand people in attendance, so I am feeling quite impressed with myself. Wooo-hooooo!
Overall day two of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference was quite wonderful. Bruce Hale spoke (and even crooned like an ex rat packer at one point- so retro LA in his 'lil hat with the feather and blazer over t-shirt look) about how to reach a middle school audience; with heart, humor, and a focus on character. There was an agent panel that was not terribly useful, but I did fall in nerd love with Edward Necarsulmer IV, for no discernible reason. Then we watched snippets from their Master Class videos about Tomie dePaola and Richard Peck, who effortlessly delivered a tear-jerking, passionate, superbly crafted speech.
At the close of the day Jack Gantos spoke and I feared that all would end on an awkwardly lackluster note, but he turned it around. At the end of the day (that one's for you Edward Necarsulmer IV- even though in this case it was, literally, the end of the day), I found him one of the most energizing speakers. His lack of polish, spastic gestures and tangents worked on me like Ornette Coleman in the role of Pied Piper. Lately I had been considering that this this whole writing thing was a wash, that what I really was, and aspired to be, was a great reader. In his speech, Gantos posited that it was precisely that desire that made the best writers.
I know that I need to make changes in the daily operation of my life. I need to sit in this exact chair, at this particular desk (although some better lighting would be nice), and just MAKE IT HAPPEN. No more doubt, no more avoidance. Just typing.