David. Freaking. Wiesner. You guys.
Sure, he looks slightly frightened, but still it was a highlight of my trip to the 2013 SCBWI conference in LA. (By the way, see the squirrel shirt I'm wearing? I get a lot of compliments on it wherever I go.)
The conference, which spanned four days, was so massive that I don't want to bore you or myself by recounting every detail of it. I attended with my fellow AAU alumni Sunny, Shih-Fen and Hyoji, as well as fellow scholarship winner Katie. The conference took place at the Hyatt Regency. Here's the view from our hotel room:
SCBWI kept us busy from 8:30 am to 6:30 every single day in overly air-conditioned conference rooms and ballrooms. And then on Saturday they threw a big party. I think my friends and I were all mentally exhausted but inspired and encouraged.
The Golden Kite Luncheon
The Portfolio Showcase
Wiesner discussing book design
An underlying theme throughout the conference was courage. Deciding to be an author or illustrator is scary. There were many motivational speakers who shared their own stories, talking about the dozens of publishers who rejected their books before they finally got published. At the end of the conference, Jarrett Krosoczka humorously read aloud negative online reviews of his books. ("Too much yellow," one reviewer quipped.) Then he talked about why we write children's books, of how a good book can change a child's life and stay with them forever. I started thinking about all the books I loved as a kid and a teen, like The Chronicles of Narnia, and maybe got a little choked up. Sunny later said, "I'm so fulfilled with the happiness to know that I'm in the right place."
Jarrett has a TED talk which is pretty similar to the talk he gave at the conference, if you're interested:
At the airport I saw Jarrett eating a hamburger at Burger King. I almost said hi to him, but then I didn't because I am chicken.
Raffles were held throughout the conference. On the last day, about 40 books were lined up, and if your name was pulled out of the box, you could pick out a book. My name was called when there was only one book left. After a weekend of celebrating beautiful, clever, thoughtful, funny children's books, I end up with "Almost the Real Thing: Simulation in Your High-Tech World", published in 1991.
Whatever. Time to get back to work.