Keeping it Real: Directing the 2012 NESCBWI Conference

by Kathryn on May 3, 2012

Five years ago I walked into my first SCBWI conference. I had written a fantasy novel for kids, and a family friend who wrote children’s books told me I should go to this conference. She was the only one I knew. The next year, I had an online critique group and met them for the first time at the conference. The year after that, I was volunteering and my circle of friends grew even larger.

Then Marilyn Salerno asked me if I would help direct the conference in 2011 and 2012. I took a few months to think it over, and here I am today, finished with two years of SCBWI conferences.

It’s a totally different experience directing a conference than attending one – though I try to think about my writing, mostly I’m thinking: does the next presenter have the right computer cables? We’ve got to remind everyone about parking validation again! Are they setting up the tables for the book signing?

This year, everything came together beautifully thanks to the fleet of fabulous volunteers who come back year after year to give of their free time to make the conference a success; the knowledgeable faculty who generously share their experience in publishing; and the hotel staff who went above and beyond to welcome us to Springfield this year.

Highlights of the weekend for me included listening to Frog and Toad during Sara Zarr’s clever and poignant speech about the reality of the creative process, imagining “What If?” along with Kate Messner, who was generous to share her TED talk with our conference, and “becoming” my character during a writing activity in Linda Urban’s workshop, “Get Unstuck.”

Many, many more fabulous workshops took place that I didn’t get to see, and hundreds of people there experienced his or her own little (or large) epiphanies about their work, and laughed and cried with both new and old friends. That’s what a conference is supposed to be.

Thank you everyone for coming!

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