DC Dispatch…

I’m in DC right now, sitting in my sister’s apartment in my PJs.  Contemplating coffee, and maybe some quiet reading time before I head on over to the National Book Festival. Just hanging out. It’s nice.

I came into town for the SLJ Leadership Summit, which was really an outstanding conference.  It made me think about conferences, generally, and about how they’re just too big.  This summit is a different model– a manageable group of people gather, in one BIG room, and learn with and from each other.  Everyone can attend everything (no competing events) and the conference has a true focus to it. This year it was “the new world of reading.”  So there were some really fascinating wide-ranging conversations, about what that means. People with different ideas and perspectives, who’d all been hearing the same panels, were actually in a position to fully engage and debate. More than any other event like this I’ve attended, I felt like every single person present REALLY wanted to be there, and was listening.  Which made me listen better, and get more out of it.  I didn’t feel like I was author, peddling my book. I felt like a true participant, and that was SO in keeping with the themes of the summit–connectedness, new ways to learn, etc.  I’ve been talking for awhile about creating some sort of southeastern children’s author’s writing conference.  This gave me a lot of ideas for what I  want that to be, and how to make it happen.

It didn’t hurt any that the conference also had AMAZING food.

And of course, I also got to see friends, which was wonderful.  And I got to meet, in person, so many online friends I’ve been getting to know for so long.  I got to tour First Book, which blew my mind (and if you don’t know about it, you should!) I made new friends, and took a long walk in the rain, and had dinner with my family, and it has been a wonderful, wonderful trip.

But mostly, this morning, I’m thinking about how things are often too big. I am thinking about how it is so easy to MEASURE the world right now–in attendees or hits or followers or whatever. I think this constant measuring leads us to PUSH things to keep getting bigger.  I’m thinking about how sometimes, the very best thing is NOT to grow so much.  I’m thinking about “just right.”

Thank you, School Library Journal, for getting me thinking.

4 Responses to “DC Dispatch…”

  1. Kate Messner Says:

    Oh, this sounds amazing, Laurel! I’m so glad you got to be there. I just accepted an invitation to speak at what sounds like a very similar conference/summit for English teachers in PA this summer, so your post really has me looking forward to that.

    And it also has me thinking about writing conferences – how many of those feel too big and overwhelming for the kind of sharing I crave, too. Pondering and perhaps some plotting to come…

  2. laurel Says:

    We should talk, Kate!

  3. :paula Says:

    I do love the little. KidLitCon was the same way – both events made me never want to go to another convention center cattle call again! And dear, Baltimore Book Fest was littler still, you’d have loved it! See you soon!

  4. James Kennedy Says:

    I was delighted to finally meet you, Laurel. Tina said you were a spitfire and she wasn’t wrong. (Is she ever?)

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