So I'm off this weekend for the Eastern NY SCBWI Falling Leaves Master Retreat - and I'm pretty excited (and a little nervous too), because I'll be spending the weekend with a variety of other published authors and NYC editors. We had to submit a writing sample back in the summer to be accepted, and we've been assigned actual homework (!) to prepare for our writing work this weekend. I expect it to be an intensive discussion of Young Adult novel writing, and I'm hoping to get a lot out of it. I've been to a few other writers' conferences and am trying to use my previous experiences to prepare:
~Be open to meeting new people. All kinds of people attend conferences, at all different points in their writing careers. There's always someone else to learn from, and someone else who wants to learn from you. Be frank, kind, and polite when talking to other writers.
~Be prepared to talk about your work. For almost every homework assignment, I had to prepare an "elevator pitch" of my novel - the 1-2 sentence description of my book I could chat up while riding in an elevator with an editor/agent/colleague. Always be prepared to talk about your work (and why it's brilliant!) in a succinct, interesting fashion,
~Take breaks when necessary. I've found that sometimes, writers' conferences can be overwhelming and exhausting. It's good for me to take breaks every so often to recharge, in my hotel room or even a quiet corner of the lobby. Staying well hydrated and snacking when needed is key too.
~Be tough. If you're attending a critique session or otherwise sharing your work, be ready for and open to constructive criticism. Remember that, like readers and reviewers, some people will respond positively to your work, and some might not. Take in everyone's opinions, and then go home and mull over which are solid criticisms that you can use to make your writing better.
~Look forward to learning more about the trade. This is the time to soak in everything you can from other people who are working in the industry. Ask questions, attend as many sessions as you can, and take notes.
~Be inspired! I hope to come away from this weekend knowing more about the YA novel-writing industry. I also hope to get some feedback on my own project and, maybe, make some connections with other writers and editors in the genre. Incidentally, here are the 5 editors that will be working with us this weekend:
Aubrey Poole, Associate Editor at Sourcebooks
Mallory Kass, Editor at Scholastic Books
Katherine Jacobs, Editor at Roaring Book Press
Kathy Dawson of Kathy Dawson Books, imprint at Penguin Young Readers
Michelle Poploff, Executive Editor at Delacorte Books (division of Random House)
I can't wait to tell you all about it!