On a Journey of Exploration by Deborah King
Breathe was my first writing conference.
I’ve attended others since that first one, conferences that are bigger or focused in different ways. They’ve all been good, and I’ve learned so much at each one—but I’ll always hold Breathe in a special place in my thoughts. It’s the conference that felt like a leap of faith. A choice to invest in myself, to invest in reaching my dream. It’s the conference where it all started.
Now I’m a few years further down the writing road, and what seemed scary and unattainable at that first conference (agents! query letters! manuscript critiques!) now seems manageable, if still a challenge. I’ve heard the stories of others who are ahead of me, and I see that it is possible to get there too. I’ve scribbled words of wisdom in my notebooks and seen that guidance transform and mature my writing.
This year, I’m coming back to Breathe as a presenter. It’s not because I have everything about writing mastered. It’s because Breathe started me on a journey of exploration. A quest to pursue writing as a wanderer and a pilgrim. Now every novel or picture book I read becomes my mentor, and every human interaction becomes my guide. We writers are observers of our world and analyzers of our craft. This is how we grow. This is how we do things we didn’t know we could do.
So the thing I’m most looking forward to at Breathe this year is the opportunity to share a little of what I’ve learned in my travels. To shout encouragement to those who are also hacking their way through thick jungles—and to raise a beacon for those just setting one timid foot on the road to adventure. None of us will ever be such strong writers that we don’t need the wisdom of those around us. We must encounter our world with keen eyes, and since there is so much of our world to encounter, we need the keen eyes of others, too.
Breathe is about reaching out to grip the hands of others ahead, behind, and beside—to receive and to give strength. We’re on a journey. Let’s do it together.
Deborah King is associate copy editor of nonfiction and kids books at Tyndale House Publishers. She loves writing fantasy fiction for children and is currently pursuing an MFA in writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. When not reading or writing, she enjoys art projects, crafting, and generally making the world a more beautiful place. Debbie has lived all over the place and is currently learning to call Glen Ellyn, IL, her home.