Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Spring Fling

This is my first blog entry in over a year and a half. I missed you. A lot has happened to me and my husband, and perhaps I will tell you more about it later. Right now, I want to tell you about what happened a few days ago.

I attended the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Spring Fling Conference in Citrus Heights on Saturday. My portfolio review was scheduled for 8:00 am on the patio. Remember the patio, it's an important part of the story. I had been very nervous about it all week. It's hard to believe I paid money to be judged by strangers. And until a week before the conference, I could not find my portfolio in the chaos of boxes and furniture that has been my life since we moved in October. And I could not find my sample book mockup until that Friday afternoon.

I left home early, and was a couple of blocks away when I reached for my prescription sunglasses. I then realized that I had forgotten my purse. I turned back, grabbed it, then set off again.

I signed in for the conference then went out to the patio. It was ten or fifteen minutes early. I set up my stuff on a patio table and waited for the guy I was scheduled to see.

A few other attendees came by tried to go in through the patio. That's when I realized that the door had locked behind me. And it was cold out there.

Eight o'clock came and went. I thought the guy was maybe a few minutes late. I decided not to make a big deal about it. It happens to everyone.

I re-read the guidelines and noticed that portfolio reviews are exactly fifteen minutes and are tightly scheduled. I realized that I might only get five or ten minutes. I was alarmed that this guy was so late.

Finally. at 8:15 I banged on the door until someone let me back inside. I didn't know what to do. I told the lady at the sign-in desk what happened. I told the lady guarding the portfolios where they were laid out for everyone to see. I struggled to contain the panic that was welling up inside me. She came out into the hall and pointed out the gentleman I had been scheduled to see. He was sitting in the hallway going over someone else's portfolio. He was actually sitting just a few feet from where I had been waiting, out of sight from the patio.

I didn't want to interrupt the other artist's portfolio review. And I was too panicky to approach them anyway. I went into the ladies' room and had a good cry. I seriously considered the option of just going home. No, I was trying to be a professional. I was afraid, ashamed, frustrated, and panicky. I poured my heart out to a sympathetic woman in the ladies' room. I had a headache.

I struggled to calm down and be professional. This is no big deal, I told myself. I swallowed an ibuprophen and blew my nose. I took deep breaths. I went out in the hall, feeling a little better, and waited for the gentleman to be available. I sat on a bench with some other artists who were waiting for portfolio reviews. I thought I was fine.

Then a woman, who was apparently in charge, approached the review in progress. I heard her say something like, "She never showed up? Well, I guess she missed out."

I ran over there. I thought I was in control of my emotions, but, when I spoke, I sounded like I was crying. They looked at me like I was a pathetic crybaby.

ANYWAY, he rescheduled me. And it turned out to be okay. Dan Yaccarino was really very kind. He gave me insight and information that I needed. He told me something about his work. I admire his illustrative style.

I thought I was okay, but he kept telling me to calm down. At one point, he said I still looked like I was really upset. I told him I couldn't help it, this is just what I look like. Because I really did feel fine. And now I was more self-conscious.

I attended some of the other classes, and I made myself feel better by blowing off the scheduled luncheon, which was another scary social event, and taking myself to McDonald's for comfort food. I felt a lot better after that.

Later, looking at the portfolios on display, I was very impressed by the caliber of talent in attendance. Then I recognized the work of one of my Facebook friends, whom I had never met. Josh Nash has some very impressive illustrations. I left a note on my business card in his portfolio, in case I didn't find him in the crowd.

I did find him in one of the afternoon sessions. It wasn't very hard, because the overwhelming number of attendants were female. I introduced myself. He turned out to be a really nice young man.

I had such a sense of relief when the conference was over. I was so glad I didn't just go home when the stress was so overwhelming at the beginning of the day. I learned something about the business, and everyone was so nice.

I rushed home to my dear husband and took him out to Dickey's Barbecue Pit.