Posted by: Bonnie Anderson | June 21, 2011

The First Page

This week I am preparing to go to my second writing conference.  The SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) is having its summer conference here in Orlando.  Last year at the encouragement of my writer’s group, I attended.  It was a little intimidating, especially since somehow or another I had volunteered to do an airport run to pick up an illustrator/writer who would be addressing the group.  You would think that having lived in Orlando for 35 years, this would not have been a big deal, but it was.  I had never picked up a stranger from the airport, had never parked in the parking garage there and didn’t know the quickest route from the airport to the Disney resort where the conference was being held.  I rarely even go to the maze-like Disney area.

Intimidating Problem #1 – How do you best flag down someone who makes their living illustrating?    I recruited my creative daughter to help me make a sign to pick up “my” illustrator and turned our time into an art afternoon for her three kids.  I was pleased with the outcome – it was kid-like enough for him to assume that the elementary artwork and lettering were intentional.

Intimidating Problem #2 – My son had a bit of a problem with me going to the airport and picking up some strange man.  I assured him that he shouldn’t worry.  The guy loves children.  How dangerous can a man who makes his living around young children be?

Intimidating Problem #3 – I have no sense of direction.  If you tell me to turn north on a particular road I will break out in a sweat and my eyes will glaze over until you use the words “left” or “right.”  I worked this out by driving to the Disney resort first and then heading to the airport so the route would be more familiar to me.  I probably left my house about the same time that he left Los Angeles.  This was also my biggest prayer request – “Please, God, don’t let me get lost with a strange man who had just been on a cross-country trip.”  I am happy to tell you that I really felt God helping me with this.  He was faithful and I maneuvered my way from the airport like a seasoned taxi driver.

Intimidating Problem #4 – When I showed up for the conference that next morning, I put on my name badge and it said, of course, my name and under my name “Volunteer.”  This status gave the false illusion of me being someone who knew what they were doing.  Nothing could have been farther from the truth.  It was a nice ice-breaker, though, and served to help me meet many other people who hadn’t a clue what they were doing either.

Intimidating Problem #5 – During the conference we broke into groups according to our genre.  It was a rich time of teaching from an accomplished writer and an editor.  We also had the opportunity to anonymously submit “Page One” of our manuscript for critique.  I could tell by the way my first page was read that I wasn’t being understood.  More specifically I think I was confusing – somehow the points that I had thought I was communicating were missed.  This was a particularly difficult challenge for me and sent me into a bit of a tailspin in my writing. 

Looking back, I think this happens all the time – we are misunderstood a lot in life.  Sometimes we are so careful to construct the perfect sentences to make our point and we still can’t get it across.  We need to press through and do/write what we are called to do.  It was a good lesson and God has used it in my life.

This past week I have been working on my book, in particular that pesky first page.  I’ve had good days and bad days – I’ve had the best of times and the worst of times.  Wait a minute, I might be on to something here…



  1. What an inspiration you are. You have shown me how to use everyday issues and incorporate them in my writing. And believe me, I have some stories to tell of how other people has come into my life and bring alot of best selling drama. But that is my God chose me – I AM a writer.

    • I love it, Vanessa. It looks like we encourage each other. God is good. Thanks!

  2. Hahaha! I love you and I’ll be praying you won’t have as many “intimidations” this time around. I know that’s not a word, but I’m using it a writer’s prerogative. 🙂 Oh great, now I’m not sure if I used that word correctly either. Have fun being critiqued. I’ll wait anxiously to hear…

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