Friday, May 10, 2013

Unapologetically Human

I spent the first day home from the NE-SCBWI conference thinking about what had gone wrong, and what I had done or said that wasn’t “right.”

Sometimes I make the mistake of talking to strangers as if they already know who I am, are privy to the inside joke, or have heard the beginning of a conversation I had weeks ago. I worry, later (always later), that the joke or point I was making didn’t come across at all, because, well, you’d have to know me to understand where I was coming from.

Dude. At NE-SCBWI, I said some weird things to agents. And made a comment about drinking in front of someone I had just met, a comment which totally could have been misconstrued.

Evidently I like to torture myself (afterwards, always afterwards). But this same skill and attention to detail might just make the difference between a good manuscript and a great one, as I turn in to do another revision.

The second day after the conference, I remembered my favorite moments. Sure, Grace Lin dissecting the Chinese characters for the word "love" to mean "swallowing your heart" was amazing. 

But my favorite moments were the human ones. People reacting to me in the same ways for which I was berating myself. Those funny things that make us connect, through our mistakes or quirks. Through our need for chocolate (I’m looking at you, Stephen Fraser!) and those silly times we put our foot in our mouths, or miss the mark on a joke.

I love those human moments.

I think of how refreshing it is to land at a blog like Matt’s, that talks about how he stumbled around while querying. Made all the mistakes. Because, boy, I have too! (On a side note, who wants Matt to come to NE-SCBWI next year??!!)

How that means so much more to me than someone spouting out the correct way to do things. How trying to be perfect (and the flip side of this—judging others) just turns everyone off.

How the best parts of life are the messy ones.

So, have you had similar experiences? What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve said or done? How often do you worry about your human moments? 

And, the following has NOTHING to do with mistakes, but cuteness and utter kindness:

Cowgirl (in first grade now) did a report on Anna for school. And she became Anna for a day, and parents had to guess who her Mystery History person was. 
My favorite part? "It was done in the style known as writing which involves a computer." PRECIOUS. 
My other favorite part? That Anna CAME. I am still marveling that Anna has that amount of grace and kindness to make my daughter's day. (Heck, YEAR!)

Just THIS. Too cute for words!

And thanks to everyone who made the NE-SCBWI conference such a roaring success!


  1. Of course I came! I couldn't miss meeting my doppelganger. :-) I must admit that those "human moments" drive me nuts about myself. I feel like I have way too many of them. But at least I've gotten better at letting them go.

  2. That's so awesome!

    And yes, if we were all perfect...then the conference would probably be on the boring side! You did a fantastic job, Heather! And will continue to be over the next few years at the conference!

  3. Anna--A thousand thanks. :) I too have gotten better at letting those things go. :)

    Laura--Isn't that awesome?! You're right, perfect=boring.

  4. OMG that is so cute!

    And I'm really mad at myself for not making it. As soon as Jon started putting photos on FB, I was like: "Man, what am I doing here at work? I should be on vacay in Massachusetts."

    I'm totally coming next year.

  5. Matt--Woot! It will be Even. More. Epic. when you come. (Hard to imagine, but yes.) You will have to be Jon's tour guide when you come--I seriously lack in those skills. :)

  6. I love the picture with Anna!

    I'm just like you--I dissect. Don't beat yourself up. Since I blurt things without thinking, we should hang more next conference.

  7. You aren't the only one he says things they wish they didn't - trust me.

  8. Aww that's sweet she came for your daughter (-: And I love what you said about human moments! We need to embrace them! Thanks!

  9. H - This post is gorgeous. And you're gorgeous in all the ways you're you. At the very least, you were a refreshing person to spend the week with. Above that, you inspired me, and loads of other people, with your genuine diligence, humor, and composure.

    Matt is definitely coming even if I have to fly down to that God forsaken airport near him and drag him north.

    Anna rocks! Cowgirl rocks! Human moments rock.

  10. Also, I Papa J asked how I knew you. I dug this up:

  11. Love you Heather! xoxo

    My embarrassing moment:

    On my first manuscript critique w/ Jenn Laughran (4 or 5 years ago) she asked if I had any questions...I wracked my brain and said, "tell me about the publishing industry."

    Oh yes I did.

    She paused, and in classic Jenn style, said, "all of it? I don't think we have time for that."

    She claims not to remember that at all. I've recovered from that embarrassing moment, but I still remember it. :)

    So PLEASE spend more time remembering all the things you did right, all the people you helped, and all the wonderful details only you made happen.

    The next few years of NE conferences are going to be wonderful because you are part of it!


  12. Theresa--Okay, done deal. More hang-out time next conference!

    Marcy--hopefully it's a universal truth kinda thing. :)

    Fida--Anna is too good to me. :) She's awesome.

    J--Ha. Is that the first comment I left at your blog? So funny. Although we all seem to be the same people now as we were three years ago. Weird. Anyone else we need to gather for the conference? And, thanks. :)

  13. Kris--I love that story! And I love that JL doesn't remember something that is scorched into your brain.

    Thanks for your vote of confidence--what a great conference it was! Already looking forward to next year. :)

  14. I love it that your daughter feels that writing is properly done by hand with a writing implement. I'm kind of afraid that people will forget how to do that! SUCH a cute photo!

  15. Thank you for sharing those human moments, Heather! I'll definitely be a part of them next year. :) LUV Anna!

  16. Susan--There was SO much cuteness that day! :)

    Sheri--Even though I feel like maybe we bullied you a bit on twitter to come next year, I am so happy that I will finally meet you! WOOT!

  17. "It was done in the style known as writing which involves a computer."

    That IS great. (Almost as great as Anna showing up for Cowgirl's report. Almost.) : )

    -- Tom

  18. Wow. Anonymous sure likes you.

    Great post and we all do and say stupid things or think of the right amazing thing to say way too late to say it. At least with our manuscripts, we can fix e stupid and add the amazing at any time (except not after it's published.)

    Hope all is well with you. Have been on FB and not blogging these days and miss reading your words.