I always leave writing conferences full of new ideas. Maybe a workshop has offered insight into some element of craft that I want to implement in my work in progress, or perhaps I’ve gleaned new strategies for social media and marketing.
I came home from the SCBWI-Western Washington Spring Conference with something a little different and probably far more valuable.
Sharon Flack and Nina Laden reminded me about intuition. Can I step back from over-analyzing and over-planning my projects and embrace the deep knowing of what my story needs?
Rachel Or asked us to trust in each other, in our art, and in ourselves.
David Wiesner spoke of faith in the ultimately unknowable act of creation that occurs when you commit to showing up on the page. Can I believe whole-heartedly in the process by which ideas are made manifest?
And to all this I will add kindness. A thousand thank yous to Dana Armin, Dana Sullivan, and Lily LaMotte for taking such good care of all of us this weekend. I was so happy to be among my people, to see your projects come to fruition, and to share my own. This writing business can be solitary and frustrating and heart-breaking, but it is also filled with the best people in the world.
And thus I begin work this morning full to brimming…
May they be yours as well.
This weekend, I was lucky enough to spend three days in beautiful Dumas Bay with book people. I woke today wondering how to capture the SCBWI-WWA retreat in a blog post.
A run in the rain.
Cookies and whisky.
Feeling like a giantess in my tiny convent room.
Hilarity and sand dollars.
How could I give this to you, I wondered, in a wrapping of words that captured falling leaves and infinite mud flats and the way sound carries over water?
Then my writer friend, Kiersi, posted an article about what makes relationships last.
The answer? It is so simple. Kindness. Walking toward the outstretched hand and taking it. Holding out your own.
In one of the sessions this weekend, Sara Crowe, talked about the characteristics of career authors. One of them was to be kind, to reach out your hand to the editors and the assistants, to the published and the not-yet-published, to all you meet along the way. And while he might not have realized it, Andrew Karre reminded us to be kind to ourselves, to shut out the noise of reviews and the market, the expectations of genre, and the general cacophony that gets in the way of turning the multitude of wonders in our cupboard into story.
So this is what I want to tell you about my weekend: It was replete with kindess.
- The kindness of Sara and Andrew when they talked about their authors and their books written and unwritten.
- The kindness of critique partners who saw strength in the craft of others and named it.
- The kindness of writers who shared the stories of their hearts with me and who, in turn, listened to my own.
- The kindness of laughing together (and leaving no one behind on the mud flats).
- The kindness of every moment that honored both the gifts and challenges of this thing we do, this thing we share, the way we strive to bring forth the story only we know.
Thank you, Andrew and Sarah. Thank you, Allyson and Lois. Thank you, compatriots. It was a beautiful weekend.
This past weekend I was lucky enough to meet Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser, the founders of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, at a regional SCBWI conference.
SCBWI is a very unusual professional organization because it serves both amateur/new writers and illustrators as well as established professionals, which means SCBWI wears a lot of hats.
In one session, Lin Oliver talked about all the things that SCBWI does for writers and illustrators. The list was incredible–especially if you consider that membership is only $70 a year. FYI this is a blatant (albeit unsolicited) promotional blog that urges, insists, and shoves you toward joining SCBWI if you haven’t already.
Why you ask? Well…
1. You’ll have access to a bunch of publications that demystify the publishing process, detail what various publishing houses and editors are looking for, guide you to book fairs, agents, and educational publishers, and articles about every aspect of the business.
2. You can network through discussion boards, newsletters, conferences, and critique groups.
3. Published authors and illustrators can participate in book launch parties, blog tours, speakers bureaus, and marketing collectives.
4. There is a dedicated staff committed to your success as a creative person.
5. You’ll find your people both regionally and around the world. That’s priceless!
So get to it! Join the fun!