Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Things I Learned From SCBWI That Have Nothing To Do With Writing

...and everything to do with conferences in general.

1. Layers. Because even though SCBWI was in LA, it was not warm-- not even outside, most of the time. What is UP with that, LA?! Anyway, the rooms are cold. I spent the entire week freezing my buns off. One day I took a second shower just to warm up. (Yes, I know, that's a waste of water. I'm very sorry, Mother Nature. I was delirious from the cold.) But at the same time, some of the rooms got really hot, so I recommend warm-weather clothes worn under removable cold-weather clothes-- or else you removing your sweater will be awkward for the people around you.

2. Tea. I'm a tea snob, so I say, bring your own. Because most conferences have only coffee. SCBWI had tea bags, but they disappeared after 9AM. So if you're like me, and you drink 2 cups a day to prevent fatigue, pack a few and heat up water in the coffee maker.

3. Business cards. Bring them. I didn't have any, because I was like, what do I write on a business card? Veronica Roth: Writer, Just Like Everyone Else Here? Well, that wasn't a good move on my part. The card should just say your name, your blog address/web address, and your e-mail address. Nothing fancy is required, but it helps to keep in touch with the friends you make if they have your contact information on hand. Smoke signals are not effective over long distances.

4. Exchange phone numbers with friends beforehand. You might feel weird about it because you haven't met your Twitter/blog/facebook/message board friends in person yet, but it's handy. They probably aren't going to check Twitter while in the hotel lobby. Probably.

5. Get over that whole "but I don't want to be a creepy stalker!" thing. It may shock you to discover that I'm kind of reserved, and I have a hard time introducing myself to people, especially people like, say, Jay Asher. In fact, Kate Hart (who signed with Michelle Andelman, did you hear? CONGRATS KATE AND MICHELLE!) had to peek at his name tag, say, "Hey V! This is him!", and then drag me over to talk to him. Actually, I think Debra Driza might have done the actual dragging. But I'm so grateful. Because he was really cool, and my momentary feelings of awkwardness were worth pushing past. Anyway, the moral of the story is that there were great authors at SCBWI, and I don't think most of them mind if you want to say hi, introduce yourself, and tell them that you like their work, no matter how weird you may feel about it.

6. On a related note: talk to strangers. The good thing is, you have something in common with everyone at the conference: books. And while some people come with a group of buddies all lined up, a lot of people don't, and they will be happy you talked to them. Even people who come with friends aren't resistant to making new ones, most of the time.

7. Skip some sessions. If some seminars don't interest you, leave. Hang out with other writers who are skipping. Sometimes you learn more that way, and even if you don't, your brain probably needs a break, or writing advice will start oozing from your nostrils.

7. Bring a camera. I didn't take any pictures, and I'm sad.

8. Split a hotel room. It's much more cost effective. And roommates are fun.

Does anyone else have any conference survival tips?

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