Recently I went to a SCBWI "meet and greet" at Chronicle Books. Basically Chronicle opened up their super hip urban-lofts San Francisco office to SCBWI members for evening drinks and hors d'oeuvres. I brought along my portfolio and a handful of business cards.
"Honestly, no," I said. "But I didn't expect it to be." See, I am not good making small talk with strangers. I can give speeches and oral presentations and stuff, but when it comes to just chatting with new people my mind goes blank and there are all these awkward silences in the conversation where all I can think of is "saysomethingKelleysaysomethingKelleysaysomethingKelley." But I made myself go to the meet-and-greet for some much-needed practice. I wore my favorite squirrel shirt for added confidence.
It was loud and crowded and very warm, and aspiring authors and illustrators hounded the Chronicle employees like hungry piranhas. Seriously, they were surprisingly aggressive. I did manage to put my postcard into the hand of a the middle-grade/YA editor. That was my big achievement of the night.
Was it fun? Not really, but I was still grateful for the opportunity. I'm going to get better at this.