I spent the weekend with the Buffalo-Niagara SCBWI group, a growing chapter in New York. It was a great experience, with editor Alyson Heller (Simon & Schuster), agent Brianne Johnson (Writer's House), and MG authors Dee Romito, Jennifer Maschari, Janet Sumner Johnson, and YA authors Kate Karyus Quinn, Demitria Lunetta, Janet McNally, and adult author Alyssa Palombo.
I've always been a fan of giving back, partly because I met an amazing group of authors on the forum AgentQueryConnect that were a step or two ahead of me, and were a great resource for me as I climbed to join them. Now, I can do that for others.
And while I went to the conference planning to be a giver, I ended up taking a bit away myself. I've been in a bit of a writing slump lately, having just finished a first draft and wrapped up an edit. I took most of May off to take a breather, but rolling into June I was still feeling a bit of a drag.
I've got to put an edit on that first draft, and I have to admit I'm not looking forward to it. I've taken the steps - ordered books to help with beefing up some research, compiled feedback from multiple critique partners. But I haven't taken the step were I actually read the words I wrote... mostly because I don't feel like doing the heavy lifting of editing.
What I needed was a reminder that writing is re-writing.
As I moved from table to table talking over multiple projects with aspiring writers, I watched their faces as they moved through the natural reactions that come with a little criticism.
1) Um, no.
2) Wait... I see what you're saying.
3) Holy crap, that could really improve my project.
From table to table, question to question (Why not make this MG? Are you sure that's picture book material? Can you age that character up / down? How married are you to the illness angle? Don't you think you're packing too much in there?) I watched different reactions, most people landing on that last place... one where you realize a suggestion from someone else could make a big difference in your work.
I left the conference much more open to some of the feedback I received from my critique partners, and reinvigorated to do the heavy lifting that I'd been putting off.
And I also mean that literally, since I haven't been to the gym in a week...