I love being a part of the SCBWI tribe.
And not just because I get to run away every summer and play with my fellow writers in a celebration of children’s books. I don’t think I could make it through this grueling struggle towards publication without such a crazy-supportive community.
As Lin Oliver stated in her opening address of the SCBWI Summer conference, “Let’s admit that we’re all kind of weirdos”. That’s probably why I feel so at home when I’m there; the place is chock full of kindred spirits.
I always enjoy the parade of the faculty that follows her opening speech. This is when each speaker marches across the stage, introduces themselves and sums up life, the universe, and everything in one word. (Strangely, I have never heard someone use the word forty-two.) As usual, not all writers follow the rules.
Here are some of my favorites from this year:
David Weisner “Plastics”
Richard Peck “Surveillance”
Jay Asher “Subtlety”
Then Jay spoke for his writing partner who couldn’t attend the faculty parade: (in high-pitched voice)”Hi, I’m Carolyn Mackler and my word is Asparagus”.
Matt de la Peña “Honesty” and “Tequila” (I think the tequila helps with the honesty.)
Kristin Clark Venuti “Brain fart”
Ari Lewin “Bacon”
Laurie Halse Anderson made up a word, “Frenergy” which she described as frenzy and energy.
After wracking her brain all night trying to think of a word, Alyn Johnston was inspired by the talking elevator in the hotel : “L-lobby!” (Did I mention that the elevator has a very laid back Californian accent?)
After several other inspiring words, the conference got rolling with a great keynote from Laurie Halse Anderson that just made me love her forever. (Okay, I was already a fan of her work, but now it’s permanently carved into my heart: me + LHA = reader love forever and ever.)
I’ve felt an emotional disconnect with my writing lately. It’s all tied up in agent-submission fatigue and self-doubt. Anderson shot straight to the heart of that when she discussed her early writing struggles. At one point she said:
“Your fear is that you are a fraud with no talent.”
I wondered how she could see into my soul from eight rows back. I almost cried. She told us that there was a reason that we could hear dialogue and see in pictures. We have the gift of magic, of ‘Once upon a Time’.
“Books are proof humans can do magic.”
Amen! and Hell, yeah! I almost screamed out. She said that we are NOT like the other grownups; that we defend, protect, and celebrate childhood. We write books with integrity and honesty. In short, she said all of the things that recharged my writer’s heart and reminded me why I loved writing. She reminded me to forget about trends and to write what I love. It was the best way for me to start the conference – letting go of the negative crap and embracing the creative. Throughout the conference, this was the focus for me. I didn’t care this time about how to best market myself or which agents to pursue or what editors were wanting; I looked for things that inspired me.
I spent some quality time with my writing friends and sampled the local cuisine.
I checked out the art of a billion illustrators – not an original idea.
I may have even donned a costume and danced a bit.
I met some authors and took some awkward photos – they were all so generous with their time and kind words.
I may have gone overboard with the books.
(My bag weighed in at 49.5 lbs at the airport – score!)
I’ll be sharing posts in the weeks ahead about some great talks that helped me find the inspiration that made me excited about writing again. I hope you enjoy them.
As for my writing goals this month, I’ve toned them down a bit. Last month was a little crazy (which may have contributed to my negative state of mind).
Here are my #writemotivation goals for August:
1. Enjoy the SCBWI Summer Conference. DONE!!!
2. Revise, revise, revise. I have tons of critique notes from crit camp to review – not to mention my critique from the conference. I will be very busy with this.
3. Write, write, write. DITTO.
4. Read, read, read. I’ve indulged in this goal for the past few weeks and have read over six books already. More on that to come!
5. Keep that exercise routine going. Blech. Yes, I’m working on it. Stop nagging me. I’m just back from vacation, er, a business trip, whatever.
I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable summer and are rejuvenated from your various adventures. I know I am. Here’s to a productive and inspired fall!
20 thoughts on “First Impressions from the LA Conference”
Looks like you had a blast. An informative blast. But a blast nevertheless.
Yes, you are correct. 🙂
Great post and great pics!
Thanks, Susan. Many of the pics are thanks to Helen.
I need to be rejuvenated. I think I need time with writing friends.
I totally agree. let us know when we can kidnap you for some writing time together. it’s way overdo.
Thanks for this post, Valerie. I soooo needed to read those inspirational words. I, too, love LHA more now than ever. Glad you all had fun!
you’re very welcome, brandi. happy to share the love.
Yay for an fantastic time in LA! Great read, Val!
Fantastic indeed. Thanks, Jerry.
Yes, we are a tribe, aren’t we? Great conference, great pictures :-), great post.
and a great photographer. i’m just glad a certain dancing video didn’t surface. 🙂
Thanks for the inspiration! It is true about those fears. I know I’ve let them hold me back, and I wonder why. It’s not like I have much to lose except for my self-esteem. And I’m not sure that could be much worse. So gung ho! And good on those goals.
yes, let’s dive into the creative unknown together.
WOW! You made the conference come alive for us stuck in OK. Thanks for all the info and expecially the pictures.
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Gwen.
I’m a member of the SCWBI tribe too, I guess, but I’m not very active. I’d love to be, but for now I live vicariously through you – and I will see you in Oct! Excited to attend.
I love reading about your escapades 😀
feel free to live vicariously for now, but i do challenge you to attend at least one schmooze in the next year. you’ll be glad you did. but either way, i know you have a great time in october. 🙂
It looks like you had a fabulous time. I so want to get to a convention, but it looks like it won’t happen this year, so thanks for letting us see it vicariously. 🙂
you’re welcome, cj. here’s hoping you can make it to one in the near future. you might look at regional conferences. some are quite excellent at a fraction of the cost and a few even offer scholarships.
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