Okay then. My own completely idiosyncratic take on the Conference, which I attended this past weekend. Observations, in descending order of importance:
1. Although this year's Conference, like last year's, was conducted at the Grand Central Hyatt, and I again booked a single room for the Saturday night, my room this year was NOT co-occupied by a malevolent, window-blind-opening spirit as it was last year. And I was very relieved. But also a tiny bit disappointed.
2. Meg Rosoff was the morning keynote speaker on Saturday. She deliberately presents herself as a ticking time bomb that you can't defuse because you can't stop laughing until it's too late. I immediately went to the Conference bookstore and bought two of her novels.
3. Julie Andrews. Julie Andrews. I was among the Conference attendees old enough to remember a pre-Mary-Poppins-movie world, old enough to have been astounded as a child by the then-state-of-the-art animation. She did a presentation with her daughter/coauthor, Emma Walton Hamilton, about how and why they write children's books together, and I sat there thinking: this must be the most
well-adjusted mother-and-daughter celebrity team on the face of this planet. But I must admit that I found myself much less intrigued to learn that Julie has been writing children's books for the past 40 years than I was by the fact that I was seated in the very same room as both The Nanny Who Fell From the Sky and The Moonbeam Who Can't Be Held in One's Hand. It was more than I could really absorb, to be honest. Which explains why I lay awake for hours on Monday night uncontrollably running through and analyzing every scene in The Sound of Music. I remember reading somewhere that Christopher Plummer hated the film, to which he referred as "The Sound of Mucus." To be fair, it couldn't have been easy trying to portray the psychologically improbable Captain Von Trapp, switching on a dime from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jeckyll. But there was never a second when I didn't believe that the Maria I was watching on the big screen was utterly real.
4. Mo Willems, the closing keynote speaker. I don't pretend to know anything about the world of illustration, and I'm in no way qualified to critique his artwork. Which is a good thing, because I really don't get why he is the current It guy. All I could think of the whole time he was speaking was: please. Someone get this man some Adderall.
5. Shaun Tan was also a keynote speaker and is also an author-illustrator. He blew me away.
6. I didn't mingle (because I'm shy), or hand out my card (because I don't have one), or make connections that will enhance my writing career (because I don't have one), but I saw some people whom I already knew but don't see often, and it was wonderful to have the chance to catch up with them.
7. I was glad to be there. I attended two breakout sessions and learned a few things about the publishing industry. I choose to believe that every time I attend a writers' conference, I bump up my level of professionalism a notch.
8. I can only be who I am, and write what I write. I'm not going to get any younger, but I will never be too old for either of those things to remain true.