On the KidLit Community and Following YOUR Dreams

This past weekend, I attended the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in Springfield, MA.

I've been attending this conference each spring (except one) since 2008. I attended my first conference alone. Walking into a giant ballroom filled with strangers was a bit intimidating. But I went because I wanted to be a children's author and I knew SCBWI was the organization best suited to help me follow my dream. I attended workshops, took loads of notes and soaked up every bit of learning possible. The second time I went, I met more people, then more and more. Soon, I could count many people in the KidLit community (shorthand for people who write/illustrate books for children) as my friends and cheerleaders. This year I was a member of the "faculty." When I looked out into the room I realized I knew at least 10 people sitting there and I felt more at ease.

So why am I telling you all of this?

Because I want you to find your "peeps."
The people who will support you,
encourage you
and push you to be your best.
The ones who will encourage you to follow your dreams no matter what.
The ones who will tell you when you do something wonderful
and help you pick yourself up when you fail.
The ones who can't wait for your success
and will shout it from the rooftops when it comes.
The ones who will offer a shoulder to cry on when you fail
and then give you a gentle shove when it's time to get back on the horse.
Your peeps.

I am so lucky to have close friends and family who are my peeps. But I also have a broader group called NE-SCBWI- my KidLit peeps. Yep, I said it, MY peeps. I'm still "Pre-published" (How's that for a euphemism?) but that doesn't matter at a conference. Everyone smiles at you, says hello, and offers encouragement in random places like the elevator, or dining room, or even the bathroom.

They are the best peeps a writer could want.

Who are your peeps? Who supports your dreams? If you don't have a support system, how could you find or create one?