Friday, August 7, 2020

My Highlights From #SCBWISummerSpec

Hello community!

I'm still flying high from the first-ever virtual iteration of the SCBWI Summer Conference – after 48 years of meeting in person. (I haven't been going for 48 years. I started 16 years ago.)

Amazingly, the virtual version delivered so much, and moments like the LGBTQIA+ and Allies Social that I hosted gave me a taste of the community aspect that I was missing. (More on that in another post soon.)

I was really inspired by Susie Ghahremani's summing-it-all-up tweet, and so here's mine. Certainly not as visually pretty, but packed with the moments that inspired and/or resonated for me:

Philip Pullman explaining the best piece of advice he's been given was from Raymond Chandler, 'When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun.' That solves every problem. Meaning, "Add a character who you the writer weren’t expecting." So when he was trying to solve the problem of the opening scene of The Golden Compass he needed someone for Lyra to talk to. And then he described writing and having Lyra’s daemon appear. “What’s a daemon?” he wondered. “I wrote the rest of the 1,100 pages to find out.”

"Do you know any writer who isn't incredibly insecure?" – Judy Blume

“There’s a fine line between artistic genius and self-doubt.” – Kwame Alexander on how “you can’t let other people define your worth, your creative value.”

"There is a purpose for me in this space." –Jason Reynolds on why he keeps going in an industry that is so challenging.

"Every single type of writing is poetry. ...all of it to me is poetry." Jason Reynolds

Raúl the Third on Muhammad Ali being the "greatest" - "Not because he was better than anyone else, but because no one was greater than him." Raúl wasn't a boxer, but he thought, "If I focus on these drawings, maybe I can become a champion."

"Books are amusement parks. Kids have to choose the ride." – Kwame Alexander

Jill Santopolo talking about the heart-message being either explicit or implicit, and explaining that for the children's classic Goodnight Moon, the heart message is "everything is as it should be, and it's safe to go to sleep."

Dan Santat speaking about picture books, "16 sentences that tell a story beginning to end."

LeUyen Pham on illustrating picture books, "Not drawing what is written – interpreting what's written." She's only interested in illustrating a writer's text "if there's something left of the story to tell."

Jon Klassen (in another conversation) agreed, “I would get bored if my job was just decorating.”

“We’re making art for kids…Art is just a conversation. You’re saying something to a living breathing person on the other end. Be clear. Be interesting. Say things of value to them, the audience.” – Mac Barnett

Nic Stone advising "Separate selfhood from work."

“Books don’t have to have a happy ending. As long as there’s hope in the narrative… it can be complete.” – Jacqueline Woodson

Lori Snyder, telling the story of Gandhi's response to a brash young reporter who asked him what was his message to the world: "My life is my message."

Grace Lin on an idea being a picture book or a novel: "I know it's a picture book when the pictures are going to tell another story." Two stories, one told by words, one told by pictures.

Laurie Halse Anderson explaining that the first draft is figuring out "what I want to write." And then the second draft is taking the "beautiful mess" of that first draft and applying her craft. "Beautiful mess" is such a better metaphor than 'shitty first draft.'

"I just kept building on every tiny success until it snowballed." – Meg Medina

"We deserve to tell our readers the truth, offered in a responsible and loving way." – Laurie Halse Anderson

Jeff Kinney writing 700 jokes, then taking it down to the best 200, and then writing the book AROUND those.

"Write what you know, write who you are, and it is like a magnet." – Henry Winkler

"The eye and the ear are different listeners." – Jane Yolen, on having someone else read your manuscript out loud to you as part of your revision process.

and maybe most of all, feeling In Community, with more than 150 people showing up for the LGBTQIA+ and Allies Social on Zoom.

Giant THANK YOUS to the whole SCBWI Team Blog this time round, who made all the Official SCBWI Conference Blog postings and live-tweets possible! Thank you, Jaime, Jolie, Don, Leah, Mike, Susie, Bingham, Olugbemisola, and Gaby!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

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