Friday, May 3, 2013

A Stupid, Sappy Post

Fair warning: This post is ridiculously sentimental, maybe even gag-worthy.  So if you're rolling your eyes by the end of this entry, don't say I didn't warn you. 

While gathering my essential materials for this weekend's SCBWI "Wild Wild Midwest" conference, I realized something shocking: my conference notebook is completely full.  Every page is stuffed with my chicken scratch, beginning with the first conference I ever attended in September 2008.

I know this should be categorized under "mildly surprising" rather than "shocking," but it was quite a revelation to me.  I can't believe I've been attending conferences and workshops for five years now, accumulating enough knowledge to fill an entire notebook. 

Flipping to that first page made me reflect on 2008 Kathryn--a greenhorn who attended her first conference solo.  I'd felt like the hero in an adventure story, striking out on my epic journey with an eager heart and a brand new notebook at my side.  I was hopeful, terrified, and yes, a bit naive, too.  (Yup, I totally thought my unfinished manuscript would score a book deal by the end of the weekend.)  Trying my best to look like an adult instead of a whippersnapper fresh out of college, I swallowed my shyness, sat at a table full of complete strangers, and opened my blank notebook.  Editor Kristin Daly (Rens) took the podium and gave the keynote address.  I sat in awe and scribbled like a maniac, determined to record every one of her inspiring words. 

Five years and one full notebook later finds me still on that path to publication.  I'm wiser and older (and quite a bit less naive), but still that hopeful girl who just wants to share her stories with the world.  Those college-ruled pages remind me of where I've been--every conference, every workshop, a dozen hotels, and even one magical farmhouse.  They're filled with friendships and road trips, nail-biting critiques, and encounters with writing rock stars.  They're bursting with triumphs and tears, with happiness and heartache.  Epiphanies, pearls of wisdom, and everything I never knew I needed to know.  They're a reminder that the journey is just as important as the destination.

I'll admit, I had a hard time picking out a successor notebook.  When I bought my first one all those years ago, I didn't give one thought about where it would go and who it would meet.  I never predicted the wealth of information it would ultimately contain.  I bought it because it was pretty and on sale, and didn't have a puppy on it.

This time, I shopped with the foresight of traveling and endurance, of overstuffed tote bags and scribbling on my lap.  I bought my new one because it is sturdy, simple, and should last me another five years.  And also because it doesn't have a puppy on it.

The Old and the New.

So here I am, 2013 Kathryn, striking out on another adventure.  My fellowship of traveling companions now rivals Frodo Baggins'.  I'm thick-skinned and battle-scarred, but my heart is just as eager as when I began my epic journey.  I'm armed with my brand new notebook.  I have no idea where those blank pages will take me, but I can't wait to find out.

Okay, I'm done be sappy now.  (Did I exhaust your gag reflex?)  You can look forward to another post like this in 2018.  ;) 

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