April 01, 2020Out Into the World

I had a little adventure one Saturday in early March ... well ... let's say two little adventures if you count the drive up ...

If you know anything about Atlanta you will understand that folks like me who live south of the city are in a whole other universe from everyone who lives north of I-20. While it is a bit congested down my way, there aren't words to describe the traffic and the sheer number of souls inhabiting the northern regions of the metro Atlanta area. Even in the very early hours of a Saturday morning.

It's not enough to know to "get off at exit 29 and turn right". You have to know which right lane to be in, because there are about ten right lanes to choose from. It's also best to know which exit lane you need to be in about two miles before you actually reach the exit, since you will need to navigate through about a jillion other cars – all doing 90 mph and about 5 feet apart! – to get into the correct exit lane so you'll end up in the correct right lane. Each one of those ten right lanes will take you to its own exciting adventure. If you have a specific adventure you are headed to, you really need to know where to be, because if you end up in the wrong right lane, it's going to take quite a bit of effort to get turned around and re-navigate your course ... hence my first adventure that morning! But I'll save that sorry tale for another day, because I did eventually arrive at my intended destination and I want to tell you about the real adventure I had that day.

It was an all day writers' workshop for authors of all genres – including picture books – sponsored by Writing Day Workshops. Click on that second link to see upcoming dates and locations for this workshop through the coming year.

Being the reclusive soul that I am, I'm usually a bit skeptical of events like this when they show up in my InBox. Over my years of writing and drawing I've joined organizations that sponsor events like this. Depending on the venues, these events can be big, crowded, and noisy and I come away feeling a bit overwhelmed. Some events are so small and established that I feel like the newbie outsider trying to fit into a clique.

This particular workshop was just the right size – I'd guesstimate a couple hundred people – with fifteen different hour-long workshops to choose from during the day and several agents and publishers available for consultations and critiques. And held in conference rooms at a hotel instead of a huge convention center. Big and substantial enough to be really educational and informative. Small and intimate enough to get to meet and talk one-on-one with colleagues. Organized and put together impressively well.

Add in the bonus of getting to spend quality time with my friend, author Sandy McClure (The Chipmunk Family OdysseyThings I Ponder, and Jack and the Creekside Miracle), and meeting new friends and fellow picture book creators, Kelley and Dustin, and the whole experience was simply perfect!

While I knew it would be fun and informative, mostly I just wanted to go stand in a room with a few hundred people who are all doing what I do everyday. What a treat! Just stand there and breathe in the atmosphere! Pure bliss! I have wonderful and supportive friends and family who I truly appreciate, but I really get hungry sometimes for someone I can talk "shop" with. And it made me realize that I probably need to go to more events like this on a regular basis.

In the meantime ... my head and heart are still processing all I experienced and learned. So for April's blogs, I'll share some of the experience with you. Perhaps while helping me review and process, you'll get some encouragement and learn a few things, too ... like some new professional jargon ...

Do you know what a character arc is?

See you next week!

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  • Dixie says:
    2020-04-01, 15:58:15
    Got me hanging again. Good for you.
    Hey, Dixie, do you remember the Burma Shave signs?
    Same concept ...
    Or ... maybe like a good soap opera ... keep you hanging so you'll come back for the next episode!! - Sherry A Mitcham
  • Kathy says:
    2020-04-01, 10:16:12
    Haven’t a clue what “character arc “ is but I’m sure you’ll tell us. My brain is starved from the lack of human interaction ( other that the requisite,” did you find what you needed,” and “ your total is ___ “ at the grocery) due to social distancing! It’s like your question is asking me to use those underused brain cells!

    Good article, BTW. In life we have many paths to take but only one is the correct one.
    I hear you, girl! I just want to get into the car an GO SOMEWHERE!! I especially miss lunch at Broadway and getting to talk to everybody.

    And, yes! You will learn what a character arc is ... so glad I got to attend this workshop before the lockdown happened. Feels like it happened a long, long time ago ... - Sherry A Mitcham