I recently attended another writer’s conference. Yes, another one!

This one was called the ”Teen Writer’s Conference,” and it was generally more centered on kids aged 13 to 18. It was an all-day event, like the other conference in Salt Lake City that I attended a few months ago, and there were a lot of different classes too; also, at the end of the day, we had some competition results.

Last time I went to this same teen conference, two years ago, I had gotten really sick the day of the gathering. I still went, and still had a lot of fun, but it was really hard to focus in all of the classes.

Thankfully, this time I was feeling great and ready to learn! However, there was a little trouble before I could get into the June 15 conference at the Southwest Branch of the Weber County Library in Roy. My name wasn’t on the list! I was confident that I had paid, and I had an email confirming my purchase.

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The people at the front desk assured me that they’d get me in, and they did, which was a huge relief. As another surprise, I saw one of my old friends from school, and we got to hang out together for the entire day. After the first three classes, we had lunch, which was catered by Cafe Zupas.

We had a keynote speech by Charlie Holmberg, the Utah fantasy author of the Paper Magician series, who was really optimistic, bright and kind of awkward. But that was what made her relatable. She spoke about her story, and gave us some tips on how to deal with writing and rejections.

Giraffe wisdom

Holmberg also talked about her own story, and how she went from writing awful fanfiction to writing the Paper Magician trilogy — “The Paper Magician,” “The Glass Magician,” “The Master Magician” — that has been snagged by Disney. During her speech, she constantly said that she wasn’t special and that there wasn’t anything special about her. But at the end, she said that we should all do our best with writing, whether we are special or not.

She also read from a picture book called, ”Giraffes Can’t Dance!” by Giles Andreae. It was about a giraffe named Gerald who wanted to dance and tried to dance, but everyone made fun of him. There was a little mouse that complimented Gerald’s dancing and pointed out that he wasn’t bad, he just had to find his own music. Later, when he was really good at dancing, all of the other animals were complimenting him and trying to get him to teach them how.

But Gerald just ignored them and kept dancing.

Holmberg related this book to writing. She said that there will often be many lions and monkeys out there making fun of our art and what we do. But as long as we find our own music, we can make magic.

This conference was a lot different than the First Pages conference I went to a few months ago at the University of Utah. First Pages was a lot smaller and more personal than the Teen Writer’s Conference, but at the latter, we got to have an author panel featuring everyone there. We asked all sorts of questions and learned even more with the authors.

This teen writer’s event, sponsored by Teen Writers Inc. was more centered toward my age, which was a little more comfortable, but the First Pages conference had more down-to-earth information. As for which one I liked more, I can’t choose. Both had such great classes and great authors that I loved going to both of them.

Keep it up

I recommend these two conferences to anyone that likes to write, even if they do cost money, ranging from $55 to $100. For me, it was worth every penny.

At the end of the day at the Teen Writer’s Conference, we did have a contest for our first chapter of a novel, and I entered it with high hopes. When the results came out, I didn’t place at all. Instead of feeling disappointed and upset, I was actually OK.

Holmberg had talked about getting rejections and simply taking them under her wing and moving on. So I took this rejection and used it to fuel my fire. Right when I got home, I finished editing my manuscript-in-progress and became determined to publish it.

Later, I did get my scores on the chapter I had written, and all of the responses except for one were really positive. This showed me that not everyone is going to like what I write, and that’s their own opinion. Good authors didn’t get where they are today without failures and trials. Critics are what shape the world, and they are what shape good literature.

One day, I hope to join that line of great authors, because behind every great author, is a line of rejections. No matter what, I’m ready to face them.

Taylor Jenkins will be a senior this fall at Weber High School and loves to write. If you have questions or want to chat, email her at jenkinsta2@wsdstudent.net.

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