Wednesday, January 25, 2017
I'm pretty excited about the 18th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, coming up this February 10-12. To share why it's always such a highlight for me, here's a list. For those of you who write and/or illustrate works for kids and teens, I wonder how many of these resonate for you, too...
#1 I'm not alone.
From the moment you arrive in the hotel lobby, there's a buzz of other creative people who share a passion for creating books and stories for kids and teens. You may be the only one in your family who writes, and maybe the people closest to you don't completely "get" it, but for the next few days, you will be SURROUNDED by more than a thousand fellow travelers who not only "get" it, but feel it, too. You're not alone. We're in this together.
#2 I'm inspired!
Sometimes it happens during a keynote. Sometimes in a breakout session. Sometimes while doing a writing exercise in an intensive. Sometimes it's from a guided meditation or yoga class. Sometimes it's something someone said in line while you're both waiting for that slice of pizza, but every day there are moments that inspire me.
#3 I'm learning.
There's always something new that I learn about this children's publishing business, and the publisher, editor, art director, and agent heavy hitters deliver!
#4 I'm improving.
Craft. Even if I'm stealing moments to try out something a wonderful author said in a workshop, or experimenting with flipping a POV, or even trying to outline my novel in a thematic chart like J.K. Rowling did for Harry Potter, I keep working at it, and my craft always gets better.
#5 I'm sharing.
Also known as networking, what this really translates to is that so much of what we do as writers is solitary. So being able to to answer "what are you working on?" and talk about the manuscripts that are exciting me as I create them, to people that actually care about the answer, is wonderful.
#6 I'm finding opportunities.
At every single conference, there has been some opportunity to continue that conversation about my projects. Either with a new possible critique partner, or someone offering to help me on my journey, or, before I had an agent, an agent asking to see something, or an editor interested in having my work submitted to them, or someone with a possible speaking gig, or someone equally passionate about #WeNeedDiverseBooks wanting to join forces, or someone doing something unique and inspiring that I want to feature on the SCBWI blog, or someone with an LGBTQ kids or teen book to highlight on this blog, there's always a list of wonderful follow-ups from every conference I attend.
#7 I'm holding safe space for writing and illustrating LGBTQ characters and themes.
At every conference in New York and Los Angeles since 2009, I've hosted the LGBTQ + Allies Q&A sessions. We always get great faculty guests to come and share their perspective and answer attendee questions about writing and illustrating LGBTQ characters and themes. I'm proud and honored to be able to contribute in this way.
#8 I'm blogging.
Taking notes, blogging at the official conference blog, and tweeting updates as the conference day unfolds keeps me alert and accountable and processing throughout. And I'm so fortunate to be blogging with an amazing team: Martha Brockenbrough, Jolie Stekley, Jaime Temairik, and Don Tate. Pro Tip: Follow the #NY17SCBWI hashtag on your favorite social media channel to see moments from the conference unfold in real time. Twitter is really good for great quotes. And follow the official SCBWI conference blog for more in-depth reporting on the keynotes, panels, and sessions.
BONUS: I'm open to the unexpected.
There's always a twist. A middle-of-the-night inspiration for a new picture book manuscript. Or a character breakthrough. Or an unexpected new friendship. Or a kindness extended to me that changes everything about a project I'm working on...
I love the SCBWI Winter and Summer Conferences. And I hope I get to see you at this one!
You can find out all the information about #NY17SCBWI here.
The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,