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.


Namowal (Jennifer Bourne) said...

My friend and I missed our portfolio reviews at a recent conference too- all throughout the main events they kept calling names, so we both thought, "oh, they'll call our name when it's our turn."
Yes, they were calling names, but not for the reviews! Both of us qot quick reviews from someone who realized what happened and felt sorry for us :) but still, it's embarrassing!

Pile Girl said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Jennifer! Since I haven't posted on this blog in so long, I figured I'd lost all my readers.

Your experience sounds pretty frustrating. But it's nice how these people go out of their way to be kind to clueless souls like me. And I can only imagine that the event you attended was in the Los Angeles area and was huge.

I guess I was lucky, Dan did give me a full fifteen minutes. I just wish I could have been more adult about it. It's like an immature child lives inside me and takes over when things get stressful.

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