At my very first SCBWI conference (2006) I sat at in a high school classroom with other writers in a circle of desks around a new-to-me author Kathleen Duey. She was talking about her series The Unicorn's Secret, and then she was talking about writing in general, and suddenly I was sitting there with tears streaming down my cheeks.
I don't remember what she said exactly. I have no notes in my notebook, only tearstains. But I suspect, looking back, what she was giving me was PERMISSION. Permission to write, permission to be me, permission to write the stories in my heart.
Which is why, all these years later I still attend conferences, sometimes as an attendee, sometimes as an instructor. Each one of us needs that moment of permission, over and over again. Ultimately, it's a gift we give ourselves.