I’m a member of SCBWI, which stands for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. This international organization holds regional conferences throughout the year where writers and illustrators of children’s books (and here “children” includes young adult) gather to learn from and schmooze with more famous writers, illustrators, agents, and editors. Florida has two conferences a year, plus “boot camp” workshops throughout the state.
I’ve been attending SCBWI conferences since 2013, and I can’t say enough about how much I’ve learned from attending all the workshops and hearing all the inspirational speeches. The conferences have also helped me gain confidence, be less introverted, and introduced me to a lot of really cool people—my “writerly” friends, as I call them.
But last year I took a year off from conferences. My young adult book, published in 2015, was old news, and I was still furiously working on my second YA book and honestly feeling pretty down on myself because so many of my writer friends were publishing their second and even third books. So I wasn’t too keen to show my face, and even though I was still writing, I was kind of down on the whole writing experience.
But then I sent my second book off to my agent and she started sending out queries to publishing houses, and one of the editors who asked to see the full manuscript was an editor who happened to be presenting at the June SCBWI conference—the conference I wasn’t planning on attending. And not only that, another editor from a publishing house that had asked to see my manuscript was also presenting at the conference—not the same exact editor, but still, it seemed like fate. Or serendipity. Or whatever you want to call it.
So I decided to attend the conference, signing up for workshops that these two editors were teaching. I also paid $25 each for two critiques of my first chapter, hoping I’d get matched up with these two editors. You’re not allowed to make requests of who you want for critiques, so I had to hope the universe was looking out for me.
And you know what? The universe was looking out for me, because I did get matched up with those two editors. And not only that, the editor who requested my full manuscript told me she had just finished reading it last week—the entire manuscript, not just the first chapter—and she liked it! Enough to ask me to revise it and resubmit. (The other editor liked my first chapter too, but I don’t think the story was quite to her taste.)
So needless to say, I’m deep in the middle of revision (the editor was kind enough to provide me with a page of revision notes), and I think it’s going well, although I wish I could work faster. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about my own writing process—it’s that ideas click into place when they’re supposed to. A gift from the universe? I like to think so.