In high school I did a bit of theater (I know, shocking for an introvert! But when on stage, I’m someone different. Kind of like when I’m in court.) and one of the plays I was in was “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”. At one point, Cinderella sings about all of the things she can do in her own little corner. That song is currently cycling through my head. Like Cinderella, I can do great things when it’s just me, in my own little world. The line that’s always stuck with me is “I’m a huntress on an African safari, it’s a dangerous type of sport, and yet it’s fun. In the night I sally forth to seek my quarry, and find I forgot to bring my gun.”
That’s me. At least, that’s what I’m afraid I am. Afraid I’ll go off to do something great and dangerous, then find I’m woefully under-prepared or inadequate. A few posts ago I mentioned that I was considering going to a writer’s conference. When I come up with ideas like this, I like to mull over them for a while. Let the idea age and…and okay, I’m really a big chicken who comes up with grand ideas and then puts them off for later because I’m scared to face them.
For instance, not long after I decided that maybe, perhaps, I might ought to go to a conference, maybe, I received the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators if you are unfamiliar) magazine advertising my local spring conference in February. What a great opportunity! But, alas, it’s the weekend of my birthday and I already have plans. Darn! Maybe next fall…
More recently, however, I’ve come across a conference that I’m struggling to say no to. I’ve heard nothing but excellent things about it, and it sounds like an amazing opportunity to actually have my work read and critiqued. The only problem is the cost. The conference tuition alone is pretty expensive, but when I add flight, and hotel, and meals…whew! I, of course, tried to claim it cost too much, and we just don’t need to spend that kind of money, but my husband (in an attempt to valiantly save the day I’m sure…or push me out of my comfort zone, which he is notorious for doing) said “But you’re worth it! If this will help you pursue your dream, we’ll make it work.” Despite my protests, he remains firm. So we came up with a compromise:
The deadline for early registration is February 1. If I don’t hear from the agents with my material by then, I’ll register and go to the conference (eek!). Now I’m doubly nervous and hoping I hear back from an agent more desperately than ever. If not, then I shall brace myself and venture out on my own into the wilds of a conference. I’m petrified that once I get to there, in the midst of the lions that are agents and the elephants of other writers, I’ll realize I forgot my gun and get mauled and trampled and come home utterly defeated and out a substantial amount of cash. Deep down, my real fear is I’ll realize I’m just not good enough and return with dreams dashed.
My husband and I spent this past weekend in a blissful state of dorkdom, i.e. having a Harry Potter marathon and discussing how much better the books are than the movies. More to the point, it brought to mind a quote from J.K. Rowling. “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” I realized I can’t refrain from doing something based on the grounds that I may fail. And honestly, that’s what I’m doing by putting off conferences. So, I’ll wait (not so) patiently for the end of January, and if I haven’t heard anything, I’ll register for my first writer’s conference. Until then, I will make myself more knowledgeable about these sorts of things. What is the attire? Is it really worth it? What should I take? I would love to hear feedback from anyone who has attended one (or several) before.