scbwi conference: debunking first-timer fears

hello, world!

in a rare morning twist, my children appear to be napping simultaneously. is this what free time feels like? yas. i’ll take it. i also happen to be long overdue to share an update on my picture-booking pursuits. i think i’ll do that now. hold the phone as i take you on a journey to the past.

last september, i had the opportunity to attend an amazing scbwi conference right here in denver. hold up. s…c…b…w-w-whaaat? alphabet soup, much? for those of you not currently nerding out on picture books, that stands for society of children’s book writers and illustrators. straight from the scbwi website (which, btw, is an incredible resource hub), here’s what it’s all about…

“founded in 1971 by a group of los angeles-based children’s writers, the society of children’s book writers and illustrators is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization which is one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators. it is the only professional organization specifically for those individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television and multimedia.”

pretty legit, huh? in addition to its web presence, the scbwi orchestrates an array of development-focused events (such as conferences, workshops and critique groups), empowering us picture-booking-fools to further hone our craft and build a support network with fellow writers/illustrators.

i joined scbwi in august 2015. i had just quit my job at google and was chomping at the bit to learn, grow and develop as an aspiring picture-book writer. why, then, did it take me over a YEAR to attend my first conference? well, turns out i was a little freaked out. i was afraid i wasn’t ready. honestly, i felt like an imposter. i needed to be further along as an author before i could attend an industry event as ‘one of them.’ so i spent a year focusing on my craft, learning more about the publishing ecosystem and networking on a smaller, non-conference level. my confidence grew and i finally bit the bullet and signed up for the september 2016 letters and lines conference. although i was excited, i still carried some first-time conference fears with me. here’s what i learned about all that…

first-timer fear #1: i’m not a ‘real’ writer

simply put, i was afraid i wouldn’t fit in because i wasn’t published. cue sympathy tune on tiny violin. thankfully, the scbwi sages squashed this worry early on (like, in the opening remarks) by introducing me to the term ‘pre-published.’ in contrast to the alternative (‘unpublished’…ew), the term ‘pre-published’ has an inherently validated ring to it. i’m basically obsessed. from now on you’ll hear me touting that term with pride. samantha cronin: pre-published picture book author reporting for biz. boom.

first-timer fear #2: i won’t know anyone

as it turns out, this wasn’t true. without even realizing it, it appears that i’ve made several author buddies over the course of this past year-ish. yay, friends! the writing community is just that… a community. fellow authors (published or otherwise) totally get how hard it can be to break into this industry. with that in mind, most folks are super friendly and want to see you succeed. so go ahead and put yourself out there… you never know who might be waiting in the wings to be your new mentor / critique partner / picture book bestie.

first-timer fear #3: they’re going to make me talk

this one was major for me. because i was (er, am) still relatively early in my picture book pursuits, i was not sweet on reading my work aloud, speaking up in group sessions, or frankly finding myself in any sort of spotlight whatsoever. allow me to shock you by saying that this, too, proved to be an unwarranted worry. noticing a trend yet? 🙂 the conference vibe totally encouraged attendees to dial their level of engagement up or down based on what was right for them. to me, the whole experience was more of an introspective, lean-back learning opportunity. but for others, it easily provided a social-butterfly-friendly, hand-raising, networking platform. no pressure one way or another. i think that’s awesome.

first-timer fear #4: i won’t have time to pump (for the baby, ya know)

yep. i’m still the primary food supply for my littlest squirt. this presented some challenges for attending a full-day conference. i was so not looking forward to making bottles to leave behind, finding a private place to pump milk every 3 hours, devising a plan to refrigerate said milk, etc. enter: conference agenda amazingness for the win. there were several pre-scheduled breaks in programming, which proved to be perfect 15-minute increments to sneak away and do the whole milk-machine-thing. plus, the event was hosted at a hotel. duh. private rooms and refrigeration sources galore! easy peasy lemon squeezy.

first-timer fear #5: it’s not worth the cash money

hmm. does this qualify as a fear or an excuse? eh, probably the latter. regardless, let me be clear: this conference was worth every penny. the countless lectures, networking opportunities and avenues to receive candid feedback more than made up for the cost. but, perhaps the most valuable (dare i say priceless?) takeaway for me was the inspiration. i found it to be virtually impossible to sit in a room buzzing with creativity for hours-on-end and not walk away feeling motivated to write stuff. albeit several months later, that motivation is still churning within me. so here i am, diving into 2017 in the best way i know how: writing stuff.

thank you, scbwi! see ya again next this year!

[photo credit for featured image:]



4 comments on “scbwi conference: debunking first-timer fears”
  1. Laurie Cronin says:

    Love it sam! Keep writing and inspiring!!


    1. Thank you, as always, for reading and supporting 🙂 Special memories with my MIL!


  2. ❤ SCBWI. Good for you for taking that first step in attending a conference and best of luck with your writing!


    1. Thanks, Marcia! It really is a great organization. Appreciate you taking the time to read this post!

      Liked by 1 person

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