The past few days my campus has hosted the Children's Literature Association Conference. This is a time where all of us Children's Lit people come together (from all over the world) and get to be nerds together. This was also my first conference.
So, going to this conference has just made me realize how right brained I am. Conferences have the things called Paper Sessions (insert dramatic music here). They are about as fun as they sound. You go and listen to 3-4 people present their papers (usually they all have something in common) and then you get to ask them questions about it. Pretty straight forward. I was in one of these paper sessions at 9:30 one morning and I think I have to paint you a picture for you to really understand how I felt.
Picture this. You are swimming in the ocean, but you don't really know how to swim; you're doggy-paddling. In the shallow part you're pretty much okay. You ride the waves as they come and float along. Well, then you get brave. You doggy-paddle yourself out into the open ocean. Soon, the waves begin to crash over you and sweep you away. Not enough that you're going to drown or anything, I mean you can still keep your head above the water, but most times you're closer to sinking than swimming.
I am that swimmer. All of this critical stuff was
way mostly over my head. Granted, my brain doesn't start working until 10 am... but yeah. I remember sitting in the discussion thinking, how do you all understand what they've said enough to ask questions? What am I doing wrong? What am I even doing here? I can now relate to a sore thumb.
BUT! There was hope!
Two events made it worth while. 1) The Harry Potter paper session (which sadly two of the presenters didn't show up for) and 2) The writer's panels.
Ahhh. The Writer's Panel. Where I no only know how to swim, but can possibly surf. That is a language I can speak. Not only speak, but get
really SUPER fan girl over. And I think that is what I'll focus on in my next post - how to be a literary fan girl.
So what I'm saying in this long(ish) post is that, yes as a writer I would like to know about theory and symbolism and all of that stuff critical people look at and spend so much time talking about. I mean, it's obviously worth while for some people, and it's okay that I'm not one of them. But, you can't be totally ignorant to it. To be a good writer you have to be a good reader and to be a good reader you need to understand what you're reading. So, doggy-paddling is a totally acceptable method of swimming, just as long as you don't let it tire you out.