Back before COVID-19, I went to my first big writing conference (as a speaker) in L.A. (California) and I learned that there was a big gala thing and all of us children’s book writers (published and prepublished) were supposed to dance and schmooze there.
Despite the fact that my aunt owned a dance studio and I started dancing when I was two and despite the fact that author/poet/musician/playwright Ozzie Jones once gave me the best compliment about my dancing ever at a Bates College party and despite the fact that I’ve been in far too many musical theater productions, I get uptight about dancing.
This is awkward to admit.
And I was supposed to hang out in a group of 900 children’s book writers who were going to be dancing? It was already super obvious who the extraverts are in the children’s book world and let me tell you? It’s the dancers. It’s the schmoozes. It’s the people who introduce themselves to you and aren’t awkward about it.
It is not me.
I thought children’s book writers were my people. Apparently, I was wrong. The whole situation was a lot more like a middle school dance than I thought it would be.
What I learned
1. Some writers can actually dance. I mean, they bend backwards. They throw off shoes. They are not me.
Get your boogie on and shuck off those ukeleles, authors!
2. Author John Green blushes and sort of crumples in half when kids tell them they’ve read Looking for Alaska‘s scene that involves a penis.
I am not spoiling here, but… I’m sure you can guess the scene. The truth is that scene has a bit of the Judy Blume phenom going for it. Kids I knew flipped to it, shared it with friends, even before or after they’ve read the whole book and I could go on for awhile about this and how it’s a very okay thing, but that would be a much longer post for later in the week.
Also, despite a lot of lady writers asking him to dance, John Green managed to not dance. I envied him.
See, John. This is almost as steamy as your scene, and Raintree County is ancient, although steamy.
3. It is hard to find people you know in a crowd of 900 and sometimes you just have to give it all up and hang with people you barely know. When doing this, try not to talk about the positive beauty of fleece TOO much. They will run away.
4. Holding a beer makes dancing easier. I did not do this, but I should have. Thanks for the tip, Lisa Yee!
5. Once you tell people that you’re running off to get someone else to come dance it is REALLY REALLY hard to find those people again. Try not to worry that they think you were blowing them off and you are an evil mean girl or something.
I’m so sorry I lost you! I was busy dying inside from social anxiety.
6. Author Lisa Yee tells amazing stories. Many include peeps. Some include pee. Does there seem to be a connection?
Rock on, Little Peep. Rock on!
7. It’s okay to stand in the big grass circle by the taco makings instead of dancing because there will be other people there who aren’t drunk enough to dance either. These are some of your fellow introverts. Embrace them. Ask first though because not everyone likes embracing.
8. Even when there’s lots of room to spread out people will clump up to dance. I am not sure if this is because it is fun getting elbowed in the head or just for the hiding-your-dance-skills in a bunch of other people factor. Or maybe it’s just the hope for getting lucky is greater the closer you are to other bodies. Does anyone know? Is this an extrovert thing or an introvert thing?
9. Sometimes people can do amazing things with aluminum foil. Sometimes people can’t. This can be dangerous when the foil is used to make clothing. No. I am not posting a picture of this here. But also foil-clothing and dancing can lead to some NSFW photos of writers. Don’t enthusiastically dance if you’re only wearing aluminum-foil clothing unless you’re okay with other writers seeing body parts that are usually covered up and stuff.
10. Writer Cecil C (BEIGE) can hold while dancing:
1. Plate of food.
2. Eating utensil
3. Massive funky-cool bag/purse
4. Video camera
All at the same time with a still-healing wrist, which obviously qualifies her for this status
Yes, she is the dynamic force of both Wonderwoman and Superman combined! That’s super power.
And there you go. Helpful hints for when you go to a conference and there are a bunch of children’s book writers dancing.
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