Mirrors, Windows, and Walls: Diversity in the World of Children’s Books with JaNay Brown-Wood and Gayle Pitman by Karen McCoy

This workshop examined how American culture influences publishing in ways we don’t often realize, and vice-versa. The presenters showed a study that demonstrated how the amount of books about white children outweigh all others, especially books with Asian American, African American, Latin American, or Native American children. One wise attendee pointed out that biracial children were not represented, pointing to a group that often goes unseen, even among the commonly marginalized. Through a few workshop exercises, it was evident that the feeling of being different was paramount to many people’s experiences. Examples of books were also used to demonstrate some of the default settings that people inadvertently bring to reading or writing, including some prejudices that might be overlooked. It was such an active and productive conversation that it was a shame the session had to end—and it’s evident that these kinds of conversations need to continue.

Work/Life Balance: Organizing for Success with Tim Myers by Karen McCoy

This workshop explored how writing and life inevitably affect one another—and how to keep hope and focus when that happens. One of the most poignant moments in the workshop was when attendees were asked to list their top three writing goals, and read them aloud. This introduced the idea of intrinsic versus extrinsic goals. Mr. Myers was clear that extrinsic goals weren’t necessarily bad, but that intrinsic goals were directly related to vision, which often has a longer lasting impact. This point was beautifully illustrated when Mr. Meyers quoted a line from Tina Fey’s daughter, which eventually made it into the show 30 Rock. “I want to go to there.”

The truth of the matter is, as artists, we get to follow what we care about. And we all are going through life at our own pace. The key to balancing both work and life is knowing that when they inevitably collide, they can feed into one another and allow us to thrive.