Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Which I try to Recap SCBWI, but really I just talk about a Toilet

Hey y'all.

It's good to be back. It's also bad to be back, because I had such a good time in L.A. meeting with friends and like-minded people (read "other crazy writers") and being inspired by such literary greats as Judy Blume, Richard Peck and Libba Bray. 

Also, just a warning, I took all of two pictures at the conference, and those two pictures were of the toilet in our hotel room. 

There's a reason for that. The toilet had two flusher buttons on top of it:

We figured out that the left flusher was sort of a "half-flush" option, I guess to be more environmentally friendly and less water-wasting. 

For the first couple of days, I pondered each and every trip to the bathroom, asking questions like, "Does what I accomplished in here warrant a larger carbon footprint?" and "Will the half-flush option be adequate?"

Then I would warn my roommates: "Just so you know, I half-flushed." Then I would warn strangers in the hallway: "Just so you know, I half-flushed."

Sometimes I would use the half-flush option, and then I feared that it wasn't enough, so I would half-flush two more times. 

By day three, I was tired of passing judgment on my trips to the bathroom. So I flipped the bird to the environment and full-flushed every time. 

And it felt good.

And yes, I did just spend the first half of the post talking about a toilet. 

Some other highlights:

*I was this-close to Judy Blume!
That lady looks like she's about to karate-shop Judy's arm.
*During dinner with my agent, I sat two tables away from Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon. I now count my degrees away from Kevin Bacon in "tables". 

*I heard Laurie Halse Anderson (SPEAK) speak.

She encouraged us to ask ourselves, in the words of T.S. Elliot, "Do I dare disturb the universe?"  

She also said, "Your muse is you." This makes it even more annoying when my muse doesn't show up for work. 

*Bruce Colville reminded writers: If you don't jump, the wings will never come.

*The amazing and eloquent Richard Peck spoke. 

He said: Unless you find yourself on the page very early in life, you will spend your life looking for yourself in all the wrong places. 

I love Richard Peck. At my first SCBWI conference two years ago, I told him my first book was currently on submission. And he asked, in his regal voice, "And what are you doing in the meantime?"

I thought about the answer he was looking for. I said, "Writing my next book."

He said, "That is the right answer."

So, directly after that conversation, I started actually writing my next book, because I didn't want to lie to someone like Richard Peck. That book was EVERNEATH. 

*I went to lunch with some awesome writers. 
(from the left) Josephine Angelini (Starcrossed), Bree Despain (The Dark Divine), Brodi Ashton (Everneath), Lindsey Leavitt (Princess For Hire),  Lani Woodland (Intrinsical), Leigh Fallon (Carrier of the Mark), Morgan Shamy (writer), Alexandra Monir (Timeless), Gretchen McNeil (Possess).
I stole this picture from Leigh Fallon's blog. She mentioned how the pic looks eerily like the Last Supper. It really does. But I prefer to think of it as the First Lunch. 

Okay, this post is getting really long. I'll have more stories about my toilet on Friday. 

But for now, I ask you, do you dare disturb the universe? Well? Do you?


  1. Excellent recap. It almost felt like I was there!

  2. Nicole- you could really feel what it was like to flush, right?

  3. Hehehe. That is a fascinating toilet, right there. It could lead to lots of philosophical discussions. I am with you though, I would have been full-flushing that thing every time. Kind of takes the guesswork out of the equation. :)

    Excellent recap! Love the pics and the advice. I hope I can make it to one of those sometime. That would be too awesome! :D

    I absolutely love the First Lunch picture. Brilliant. :)

  4. I hate to point it out, but you look DIFFERENT in that picture. You've officially ruined your I-look-the-same-in-every-picture trend. (You always look good, but you look a bit more glamorous now. Must be the "expectant debut author" glow.)

    Also, there's an empty spot by Josephine, and I'm currently picturing myself there. Wish I were better at photoshop....

  5. Kristin- You must make it to the conference sometime. It is well worth the money!* (in my opinion)

    *statement not FDA approved

    Robin- I'm so happy I succeeded in looking different! I've been working at it all summer long.

  6. Wow! That toilet would've caused some sleepless nights and serious anxiety for me too. It sounds like you had an amazing time.

  7. You didn't answer the most important question! Did you leap frog over to anyone to give away one of your guitar picks? Or, is that a post for another time?

    That toiled is evil! Toilets and I are arch nemeses. No matter what, they refuse to flush for me and always get clogged, even when there is nothing to clog it. That toilet, I'm sure, would've laughed at me and half-flushed when I meant to full-flush or vice versa. There would've been a definite showdown!

  8. Jenny- Yes, that toilet still gives me nightmares.

    Jenni- That toilet was laughing at me the whole time. And occasionally he would flip me off.

    Unfortunately I didn't get to leap frog over any people. But I did skip through the lobby, showering people with guitar picks.

  9. Awesome recap. I find the story about the toilet decision oddly freeing. Well done. ;-)

  10. just think brodi...pretty soon people will be saying "i was THIS CLOSE to brodi ashton". pretty amazing!

    and as a side note: the whole 1/2 flush thing would never fly at our house, it's a whole flush or nothing here! ;O)

  11. Favorite line from this post: "Your muse is you." This makes it even more annoying when my muse doesn't show up for work. Tell me when you figure out how to make that one work.

    Glad you had a great time. And that you got over that half-flush syndrome fairly quickly. I have a book for you (to read in all your spare time, right?). I'll bring it over next week.

  12. Jenn- It was freeing. Later, we burned our bras.

    Dorien- They'll be saying, "I was THIS CLOSE to Brodi Ashton... and she sorta smells funny."

    Cath- Can't wait for the book! Bring it on by. :)

  13. I'm not sure what is more disturbing that I could see myself doing and saying the same things when it came to the epic-ness of that toilet or the fact that I'm sitting her laughing disturbingly loud at the upper portion of your post and thinking about taking a trip just so I can play with that thing.

    And seriously, to sit at THAT table. *Sigh*

    Have a good weekend!

  14. Oh, Brodi.

    First Lunch. I love it. Sounds so Hobbity.

  15. Sounds like a good time was had by all. Woo-hoo!

    As for disturbing the Universe, well, what is the Universe currently doing? I mean, if it's doing important Universey stuff, I'm not so sure I want to disturb it. Muck with the gravity and you could send asteroids and various moons colliding with planets, causing extinctions of alien civilizations (or at least alien dinosaurs) and who knows what kind of ramifications that will have. Now, if the Universe, like, reading the sports page or something, I'd probably be okay with disturbing it. Unless it, ya know, reading the sports page while on some fancy-schmancy toilet. In which case, I'd wait until it's done. Not sure if I'd have the courage to ask if it used a half flush or a full one though.

  16. I LOVE Richard Peck! I had to think about it for a minute how I knew his name and then I remembered... I never laughed so hard as when I read 'A Long Way From Chicago'!!

    Also, no lie, I am one degree to Kevin Bacon. We should have a club!!

  17. Flippin' Fabulous- I'd hate to tell people to plan a trip to L.A. just to see a toilet, but you should totally plan a trip to L.A. just to see a toilet. :)

    Donna- It is very hobbity! Can't wait for secondsies.

    Rue- I love the way your mind works.

    Sal- He is so awesome. And how are you one degree from Kevin Bacon? I need to know about this!

  18. I think there is an easy way to determine which flush to use. Divide your business in half. Half of number one? .5. Give it the half flush. Half of number two. 1. Or whole. Easy peasy. I should write a book on how to know which flush to use. It wouldn't be a very long book. More like a leaflet.

    P.S. I didn't read all of the comments, so sorry if you already mentioned this.

  19. D.M. - I would definitely say that is a book that's never been done before. :)

  20. So I am one degree from Kevin Bacon because my uncle is an actor and has worked with him.

    And you know, you don't have to limit your toilet travel to L.A. for the special flushers. You could also hit Oakland and other Bay Area cities. They're militant about environmental crap like that!