Monday, March 24, 2014

My top ten inspirations from #LA14writersdays

What an amazing weekend!

The two-day Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - Los Angeles writers conference I just ran (along with my co-regional advisor, Sarah Laurenson, our assistant regional advisor, Sally Jones Rogan, and a whole team of fellow volunteers) was a great success, if I do say so myself. (But it's not just me. Lots of other people are saying it, too!)

Saturday was a day of keynotes and a first pages panel, and Sunday were the intensives.

Here are some of the moments that are still resonating for me:

1. "Writers hear 'no' more than toddlers do." ...And how that's part of the creative and career process of being a writer - Katherine Applegate (Newbery-winner for her MG novel, "The One And Only Ivan.")

2. 'If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.'- Toni Morrison, as quoted by Katherine Applegate.

3. "If you're writing YA, read one YA a week... Know what's out there." - Catherine Linka (bookseller and children's book buyer for the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse and YA author of the upcoming "A Girl Called Fearless")

4. "What are the first five to ten details you learn about the character? Do they follow through?" - Heidi Fiedler (Editor at Teacher Created Materials and Argosy Press.)

5. "Fiction is frogs misbehaving." - Advice from the first pages panel, a comment on a first page where a child character rode a frog who jumped from country to country in a tour-around-the-world format.

6. The idea of building a story backwards from a profound last line, as Danielle Smith (agent at Red Fox Literary) described in her keynote.

7. Antagonists need their own plot-line: what do they want that conflicts with what your protagonist wants? - Martha Alderson (The Plot Whisperer)

8. Your main character's goals may change throughout the story: chart out their goal at the beginning, the middle and the end. (They have to have a goal in every single scene.) - Martha Alderson (The Plot Whisperer)

9. Related to #7: "The only way we can begin to emotionally identify with a character is if we know what they want." - Martha Alderson (The Plot Whisperer)

10. The final notes: Having more than 160 people sing along with me the words that describe what SCBWI offers: Inspiration, Business, Craft, Opportunity... (To the notes - moving up the scale - C, E, G, high C... And then, as a chord: Community!

and a bonus inspiration:

11. We had to stack all the venue chairs to the side of the gymnasium at the end of Sunday's program. This is a job that usually takes our small group of event volunteers nearly a half-hour. Just before we broke for the day (and sang those words in #10), I asked those for whom it was physically easy to please carry the chair they were sitting in over to the side and help us stack the chairs.  Every chair was stacked in under 10 minutes. Wow - what an illustration of the power of community!!!

Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in every one of you),

ps- If you were there and blogged about your top take-aways, add a link in comments! Thanks!


Wild About Words said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing the inspiration!

KarolinaS said...

Great event, Lee (as expected)! I loved the quote about writers hearing no more than toddlers, too.

Greg Pincus said...

Thanks for the recap... and thanks for hosting the whole event in a way that enabled inspiration, fun, and community to flow freely.