What a year it has been! As I’m packing for this year’s New England Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators conference, I wonder what the weekend will hold. I can count on learning a lot from the amazing presenters and keynote speakers. There will be catching up and laughing with friends who I get to see too rarely. There will be oodles of artwork to inspire and inspire self-doubt. But what else?
Last year’s conference was an otherworldly experience. When Ruth Sanderson called my name as winner of the R. Michelson Emerging Artist Award, I had to look at my pal, Russ Cox, to make sure I wasn’t hearing things. To my horror, he looked at me and began to clap. I quickly had to turn on the tunnel vision to step in front of a room of hundreds (the spotlight not being my perfect space). My name was quickly called again for another honor that I didn’t even hear – tunnel hearing as well – and the world started spinning. My conference experience quickly shifted from collegiality and education to congratulations from strangers, talking with agents, and attention I could not have prepared for. My friends peppered me with jokes, and I even received a slow clap when stepping into the hotel watering hole. If you’ve never received a slow clap while walking into a bar, well, I highly recommend it. Thanks for that, Sean Bixby. Th is was just the beginning of a remarkable year, but that’s a post for another day.
So while I pack my bag, trying not to forget my laptop or socks, I wonder what will happen this weekend. Who’s name is going to be called this year? Who will be swept up in a whirlwind of attention and excitement. I know so many who are deserving, and I root for them all. No matter how things shake out, it’s always such a worthwhile experience. Here we go NESCBWI 2015!
Bonus Illustration – Created for Zachary Barry Vasconcelos