About a month ago, a critique partner (CP) suggested I come to the Writing Workshop of Chicago this year. At first I thought, "Go to Chicago? No way!" because I'm a mom, and moms always make excuses not to do things for themselves. I didn't want to leave the kids. I didn't think I could afford it. This and that, and everything. Everything is a good excuse not to take do something for yourself.
Then, my husband convinced me to do it, and I am so glad he did!
We decided to turn it into a family vacation, because we were going to take a trip anyway this summer, and might as well save the gas money and hotel expenses. So, Wednesday evening, we packed up our two small children and a car full of everything we would need, and we drove to Chicago.
The trip was excellent. The kids had so much fun, or at least the older one did. The baby was a little young to truly understand what was happening.
Friday, we spent at the Field Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately Sue, the T-rex, is in the process of getting a new home, so while we could see her, it wasn't in an actual display, but rather behind glass. Hubby talked my ear off about The Dresden Files, specifically the book where Harry Dresden uses necromancy to bring Sue to life, as if I hadn't already read it. He was especially sad that Sue was not on display. Our older son was pretty thrilled by the dinosaurs we could see (and there were quite a few) but I think he mostly loved the children's area on the lower level, where he painstakingly colored in a butterfly and glued it to a popsicle stick to give to his grandparents. I think I liked the exhibit on gem stones the best, because I'm a girl and I like pretty things, and I don't mind being a stereotype in this sense.
Saturday, the big conference! Hubby took the boys to the Museum of Space and Industry, and I took the train, all by myself, to the conference. It was such a good experience. I am so glad that I ultimately decided to go! I met with two agents face to face. The first, sadly, does not represent my genre, but the second seemed enthusiastic about my manuscript (MS). I'm crossing my fingers and hoping something comes of that.
One of the big things I got from this experience was that it's okay to advocate for yourself to find the literary agent who is the best fit for you. That actually that's the best situation. A good agent is a career-long partner, and a good partner for one author might not be the best fit for another. The whole conference put a lot of things in perspective for me.
1) Taking time to really perfect an MS. I think back to The Life and Death of Cody Matthis with which I have spent so many years, and rewritten and revised and edited what feels like a thousand times. It's so hard not to feel like a piece of my soul is trapped in that MS.
2) Literary agents will help you make an already very good MS into something that truly shines! And by the time a book ends up on the shelf, it's been through dozens of professional's scrutiny, and edited and edited and edited. One of the hardest parts of this process, at least for me, is reading comparison titles (already published works that are similar to mine in style, plot, characters, etc). It's hard, because I can't help but read a comp title and think, "I'm not this good, I'll never get published."
That's faulty logic, because that author had his/her work vetted by a lot more people - professional people who are paid to make it the best product it could be - than I have. I've had beta readers read it. I've had friends read it. I've even hired a developmental editor to read it. And all of them say, it's ready to go. So why do I still feel so much doubt? Because I'm comparing myself to already published works.
3) The conference really hit home why I want to pursue traditional publishing, even though I know it is a longer process. Writing and publishing a book is a team effort. I want that team. I want a group of people who will work with me and help me tell my story in the best possible way. It will take time. Lucky me, I'm still young(ish). But I have the time. I just need to slow down, be patient, and not give up. Cody is an important story, one I want and need to share with the world. And it's not the only important story in me.
On Sunday, the family spent the day at the Navy Pier. Unfortunately our kiddo wasn't quite tall enough to ride all of the rides, but he got a kick out of the ones he did ride. I think I might actually try to take him to Worlds of Fun next week.
We drove all day today and made it home just before dinnertime. I could not be happier to be able to prop my feet up on my own couch again. I love to travel, but I also love being home.