My trip report for Book Expo America 2010:
I talked to a LOT of people.
Yep, that just about sums it up. :)
Book Expo America (known as BEA) is a convention for booksellers. Publishers have booths, and booksellers, librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, and others wander between them and talk about books. In a word, it is AWESOME.
This year's convention lasted either two days or two months, I'm not sure which. I walked into the Javits Center in NYC at 7am, and when I came out in the evening, it was suddenly 90+ degrees. It felt exactly as if I'd entered the convention center in May and emerged in August. (Not impossible. You do lose track of time in there.)
In actuality, my BEA Adventure lasted almost a week. Monday night was a party at Books of Wonder. Tuesday night was the Association of Booksellers for Children "not-a-dinner" event. Wednesday was... actually, Wednesday felt like three days. It started with the Children's Authors Breakfast, it continued with exploring the exhibit floor, and it ended with 3 different parties around Manhattan. Thursday included a meeting with my agent, more prowling through the exhibit hall and talking to people, and then the long schlep home with three bags stuffed with books.
I also brought home a quote from Richard Peck's speech at the Wednesday breakfast: "The only way to write is by the light of the bridges burning behind you."
From the context of the speech, he didn't mean burning bridges in the sense of alienating people. (That's never a good idea, IMHO.) He meant it in the sense of making career choices. If you want to be a writer, you have to choose NOT to be a lot of other things. You have to burn the bridge that could lead you to a life as a... I don't know.... insert other career goal here.
On one hand, I think that statement is less true about being a writer than being, say, a neurosurgeon or an astronaut. You can have a day job and be a writer. You can also have one career and then become a writer as a second career, or vice versa.
But on the other hand... Everyone has twenty-four hours a day, and every time you choose how to spend those hours, you are also choosing how NOT to spend them.
For me, the writer bridge is the only one that I ever wanted to cross. And I'm happy for the light of the other burning bridges -- it keeps me from tripping over my feet as I walk across. But I'm curious what you guys think of that quote. Do you think it's true?