Sunday, October 30, 2005

Today, I was a nobody…

…and actually, it was kinda nice. Today, I attended the Texas Book Festival. It’s a pretty big literary shindig held in Austin about this time every year for the past 10 years. Three of the five festivals I have attended, I did so as a featured “author/illustrator” which meant that I sat on a discussion panel with other illustrators and authors, and then gave a presentation to the kids under the Children’s Chapter tents. Being a featured guest is always nice, however, for me, just being an attendee is actually more enjoyable. I can attend the discussions, and browse the exhibition tents without the butterflies in my stomach making me want to vomit. I can just relax and enjoy the event without feeling like a giant searchlight is on my head drawing attention to me where ever I walk.

I had to work at my full-time gig today, so I was only able to get in three panels. Award winning illustrator Raul Colon spoke about his path to illustrating children’s books. One thing he said really stuck with me. He defined a freelance illustrator as one who quits his job, steps out on faith and pursues his passions. I am on the cusp of stepping out, however fear usually overtakes my faith.

The second panel I attended was on confronting social issues in children’s books. It was a racially diverse roundtable discussion by six young adult authors. I didn’t make it all the way through. I got up and left, went next door to see Caldecott award winning illustrator/author Eric Rohmann. I’m so glad I did. As an illustrator, I got more out of this presentation anyway.

I made my way in about fifteen minutes late, and took a seat in the back. To my immediate right sat children’s illustrator Christy Stallop and children’s author Dianna Aston. To my left sat a rather large woman who sat there quietly breaking wind throughout the entire discussion. Yes, it was awful. But the more awful thing was imagining that Christy and Dianna probably figured it was me breaking wind. I mean, I was the only brotha in the room, and I figured they'd think, who but a brotha would sit there in a crowded room full of people and break wind like nobody’d care. Eric Rohmann had finished his discussion and was taking questions when I decided that I had had enough and left. The wife, my son and I dashed down to purchase some more books in the children’s book signing tent.

I purchased books by Eric Rohmann as well as Raul Colon and they both signed their respective books.

Also bumped into author Varian Johnson, and the author illustrator team of Janice Shefelman and Tom Shefelman.

My 2005 TBF purchases (not including the wife’s purchases)

By illustrator/author Eric Rohman:
Clara and Asha
The Cinder-eyed cats

By illustrator Raul Colon:
Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates, written by Johah Winter
Orson Blasts Off

Illustrator Susan Guevara:
Chato’s Kitchen written by Gary Soto

By illustrator Harry Bliss:
Mrs. Watson wants your teeth written by Alison McGhee

Who’s Under That Hat written by David A. Carter


rindambyers said...

I have to admit that I always sneak off to the illustator events and programs and sit obscurely in the back with a pencil and white sheets of paper, hoping nobody will notice that I am a writer sneaking off incognito to the illustrator events and programs...sounds like SO much fun! Wish I could have been there too...

The Archivist said...

That's awful, being considered the wind-breaker when you're not. Burt aside from that part, it seems you had a great time, with some VERY interesting purchases.

The Gig said...

You have heard the saying "what goes around comes around" haven't you. Well when you were just a very little guy, still in diapers and not quite a toddler yet, we went to your aunt's wedding which was at your grandma DD's house and while I was sitting there with you on my lap, you let go a loud one and naturally everyone looked at me. "Embarrassing"