I've been looking forward to this for ages. Since last year, actually, when I just didn't have the travel funding to go to the first annual Kidlit conference. (We were saving up for a trip to the Venice Biennale last fall.) So I was really eager to meet fellow bloggers and represent for FW and RR at Kidlit 08: Bridging Books and Blogs.
On Friday evening, I arrived in Portland, and had the opportunity to try to transport myself to Deschutes Brewery downtown to meet up with kidlitosphere folks, but I was tired, and also feeling shy, so I didn't make it out of the hotel. Instead, I treated myself to a late dinner in the hotel restaurant and went back to my room to relax. I figured an early night was not a bad idea, since the day of conference fun was going to kick off around 8:00 a.m. (I am not a morning person. Not a bit.)
Shortly after 8:00, our lovely hostesses Laini Taylor and Jone MacCulloch welcomed everyone to Portland, and the day kicked into high gear. The first session was "Bridging Books and Blogs: A panel discussion about the Kidlitosphere," with Mark Blevis, Betsy Bird, Alice Pope, Dia Calhoun (our fellow Mills alum), and Lorie Ann Grover. I did take actual written notes, but as I have a tendency to do, I also doodled little pictures of the people who were presenting. Pictured at right: Lorie Ann Grover and Alice Pope. Pictured below: Mark Blevis.
I feel compelled to offer the following: Please do not be offended if I didn't doodle your picture. It probably means one of three things: a) I did not have a good view of your face from where I was sitting; b) you were moving around (which is not a criticism); or c) I was so rapt by what you were saying that I was too distracted/busy writing stuff down to draw you. Or, d) I did draw your picture, but I didn't like how it turned out so I don't want to show it to the public. :)
Anyway, one of the ideas that stuck with me from the opening session was the example of the Readergirlz, whose online and offline success seemed attributable in part to having a well-defined mission--a driving interest and a unique purpose. I don't know if FW has that--or needs it, since we're basically just two writers and readers talking about stuff we like--but it's something to ponder. Do we need a mission? Is FW really a project, or is it more of a pastime?
In any case, it was so exciting to get to meet such a great group of writers and bloggers in person--I can't emphasize that enough. Then, at 9:10, Colleen Mondor and Jackie Parker (over there on the right) spoke on "Making the Most of the Community: Blog Tour Events." I was especially looking forward to meeting Colleen, since we've communicated so often due to the SBBT/WBBT and working together on Guys Lit Wire; and I'd already met Jackie over the summer during a trip to Seattle, along with Alkelda the Gleeful, so I was super happy to see them both again.
It's funny, but when I met you all in person it was like we already knew each other, even though we kinda sorta didn't. I imagine that's what it's like when you think you knew someone in a past life (if you believe in that sort of thing, which I tend not to, but it's fun to think about). More on past life friends tomorrow, in Part II...