Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Be in the Room Where It Happens


By Heather Phan

The SCBWI Southern Breeze Spring Mingle 2023 conference is on your calendar and now you are looking forward to the benefits of in-person attendance, one of the greatest of which we believe is—to borrow a phrase from Hamilton creator Lin-Manual Miranda (and the idea for this post from Southern Breeze co-regional advisor Lisa Lowe Stauffer)—being in the room where it happens.


But what does that mean, to be in the room where it happens?


We’re glad you asked.


We’ve all heard stories of the water cooler conversations that are catalysts or springboards for real life collaborations, and the water-cooler effect is a concept that business, professional and other organizations are embracing as a way to bring people together to create environments—or rooms—where things can happen.


What kinds of things? Being in the room can mean different things to different people, but at its core, it’s the exchange of information, knowledge, or ideas that can be a source of inspiration, help you connect with others or move forward in your career, or lead to opportunities for partnership, collaboration, recognition, income, and more. Whether an exchange leads directly to an immediate or concrete partnership or action or simply plants a seed for the future, being in the room connects us with others with whom we share similar or intersecting interests and common goals and can place us in a position to make the most of the possibilities inherent in such an experience.


But what does this have to do with attending a kidlit creators’ conference?


Well, for those who have registered for the Southern Breeze Spring Mingle conference, it means that you’re about to be in the room where it happens.


The room where what happens?


We’re glad you asked.


The room where new happens. You’ll experience new ideas, insights, and information, make new friendships and professional connections, and be in a position to take advantage of new opportunities, and you’ll have access to all of this by just being in the room where it happens.


The room where community happens. You’ll gather with a unique mix of people who will be a wellspring of knowledge, experience, resources, ideas, and support. It will be one of the few times in your career when you will be surrounded by fellow kidlit creators, children’s book publishing professionals, and others who share your interest in and passion for creating for children and young adults. This is the moment when everyone comes together with a dedication to and hope in the possibilities that come from shared passion and purposeful action and this experience is one of the most powerful and lasting benefits of being in the room where it happens.


The room where disruption happens. You’ll be challenged to learn, grow, and explore. Humans are creatures of habit; sometimes our routines can be helpful and sometimes doing the same-old every day or working in an environment that lacks stimulation can lead to complacence, stagnation, or burnout. Disrupting your same-old patterns—especially if they’re not getting you to the place you’d like to be—can be just the thing to get your butt out of—or back into—your chair.


The room where firelighting happens. Across disciplines, people describe conference attendance as an energizing, invigorating, and catalyzing experience. Drawing from the power of your community, you make a connection, have an ah-ha moment, or learn something that jumpstarts your creativity, motivation, or understanding, and everything changes. Come on baby, light your fire!


The room where collaboration happens. You’ll be in the room where an interest in collaboration is a key driver of attendance and your fellow creators and kidlit professionals are looking for opportunities to connect, partner, and create together for mutual benefit. You’ll always be in the right place at the right time when you’re in the room where collaboration happens.


The room where dealmaking happens. Conferences are a natural conduit for partnership, and many are designed to facilitate the foundational experiences and relationships that can lead to dealmaking. No need to rely on chance—you’ll make your own luck by being in this room.


The room where your future happens. Sounds grand, doesn’t it? Well, it is! Just as a garden doesn’t spring up overnight, realizing your goals and turning your future into your now is something that requires investment—let’s call it your long game. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, and whether this step is your first or your almost-there, continuous forward movement will help cultivate your path to the future that you want. Your future lay in the room where it happens!


We can’t wait to see you at the Spring Mingle!


If you haven’t yet registered and want to learn more about the SCBWI Southern Breeze Spring Mingle conference, click here.