Monday, February 12, 2007

SCBWI Conference: Education and Inspiration

Posted by Lisa

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Oh yes, and edgy YA; sadly a passage one reader shared brought images of Britney Spears to mind. The SCBWI winter conference this weekend was about learning and inspiration. There was a most innovative graphic novel by Brian Selznick, who was one of many unreal keynote speakers. Wartime stories were told by brilliant Susan Cooper, and a story of Japanese enemies turned friends by Katherine Patterson.

Now I bring my experience home to share with my soul mates (read: Amy, Lynne, and Hannah). “Write everything down!” One of them instructed me. She spoke slowly, wanting to make sure I understood. She knows me well – was I paying attention? I will share my high points with them, a couple low points, the times I felt lost.

“It’s about the love. The Beatles had it right.” Linda Sue Parks said in her keynote. “When you love what you are writing, the story will be your best,” she said. Light bulb moment, important to remember! The same advice was repeated by my agent when I asked him on Thursday, our first ever meeting, “What advice would you have for a new writer?”

He leaned back in his chair and took in his window view of New York City. “I’ll answer that in a roundabout way,” he said. He took his time explaining that when reading a manuscript, a story may engage him almost magically - when it all works: the characters, the plot. He told me to write what draws me in, in a similar way. When a writer is bored, it shows in his work.

“And don’t quit your job,” he added. He shared that the timeline for a writer’s success is a mystery. It reminds me of Susan Cooper’s quote the next day, as she looked out over the motionless sea of faces. “For a writer, time is not altogether linear,” she whispered into the microphone.

Education. As a writers group, we push ourselves, we push each other. Hopefully it’s the same in your writers group, too. Seventy four-year-old Katherine Patterson just published Bread and Roses. She read a hilarious passage – she makes a great Italian mama! Writing is a lifetime of learning, I suppose.

1 comment:

Patry Francis said...

So much wonderful advice here. I almost felt as if I'd been there. Thank you, Lisa.