Monday, August 5, 2013

Looking back

I realize I said I would blog about my trip to Oregon, but there was so much going on that week, it proved rather impossible.  Now that I've been home a bit, I've had time to reflect on the trip. This might be a bit on the long side, so bear with me. There is a lot to tell.  We got there just in time to see this sunset, best one of the whole week as it turned out.

I ate lots of delicious seafood. If I recall, I had salmon, halibut, shrimp, crab, and clams. Some people pretended to eat seafood, like Ryan with this string of gooseneck barnacles.

And some people, like Hannah, don't like seafood at all, which is too bad.  (Check out Hannah's face when I suggested we could eat this dead crab we found on the beach.)

We made some fun side trips to various places along the coast.  One day, we went to Cape Mears to see the shortest lighthouse I've ever seen and the Octopus Tree, a crazy big Sitka spruce.

My favorite trip was the day trip to Cannon Beach, to see all the beautiful flowers and shop at their epic candy store, and visit Ecola State Park, to see the stars! Starfish, that is. Hundreds of them.

And of course, I attended the Oregon Coast Children's Book Writer's Conference in Oceanside, Oregon.  I learned a few things that week, some of it in the class from the actual instruction, but also outside the actual class. I've been to a lot of writer's conferences, so I've heard a lot of the course material before. That doesn't mean it isn't useful. It's just that I already knew it, so I started thinking~ what else am I getting out of this?
One thing I learned is not everybody can help you. Maybe that doesn't make much sense, so let me explain. There were several editors and agents at the class, but they didn't really work on the kind of material I'm writing right now. They could offer friendly advice, but they weren't my "in" to the publishing industry. On my way to the conference, I received an email from an agent I had recently queried. No, he didn't want to represent me either. It was the second agent rejection I had received on the manuscript. I had a third agent query out, but have never heard back, so I assume that's a 'no' too. An agent at the conference also rejected my offer to query, so that made four. I didn't really feel sad about it though; I'm getting used to it. The way I look at it, none of them could help me. Then, something exciting happened...
On Friday, late in the day after class was over, a publisher emailed and said they wanted to make an offer on the manuscript.  Finally, someone in a position to help me! So maybe it's just a matter of finding the right person?
The other thing I learned is this~ in the end, only kindness matters. Of course, you and I already know it, but it's always good to be reminded of this. I came to a class of strangers on Monday morning and left with many new friends on Friday. The kindness of the instructors in their thoughtful critiques was outstanding, a far cry from what I remember in English class. (*Note to self, blog about that!) The kindness of our hosts, David and his lovely family, was a refreshing escape from the rush-rush, 'I don't have time for you' real world. David, in particular, left me with the feeling that I could contact him any time and he would do his utmost to help me if he could. That's pretty impressive for someone who's about to leave for Morocco. :)  And that's a rare thing for anyone these days.
So maybe the take away is this~ we leave our footprints everywhere we go, including on the hearts of others~ always remember to tread lightly.

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