Monday, August 6, 2012

SCBWI Reflections

My head is still processing all of the wonder.

I heard so many wonderful, wonderful writers speak over the weekend that my brain could almost explode.

 I have had a couple of internal debates about how I might present the information, insights, whatever on the blog...but somehow, I can't contain it all.
I laughed so hard that I was glad that I had not yet consumed
the thirty glasses of tea I eventually did.

I can tell you that we started with an amazing keynote by Tony DiTerlizzi.  He spoke about the importance of imagination--and we all know imagination is important, right?  But Tony brought the point home in a new and exciting way.  He was amazingly inspiring.

And sometime during the weekend, I was also inspired by the authors of the following incredible, award-winning books:

Patricia MacLachlan spoke from
her heart...such a big and beautiful
"We cannot write other people's books.  We can only do what we can do."  Eugene Yelchin

Lovely insight into writing strong, girl characters from Karen Cushman.

Memory, Research, from Clare Vanderpool

Better than Okay, Gary
And we ended with Gary Schmidt bringing us to tears, reminding us of the importance of our work in the lives of children.  I think that is what touched me so much about Tony and Gary--they kept bringing their speeches around to the impact we have on children.  (Well-chosen as a lead-out and a closing, SCBWI).

But there are other blogs that can give details of these presentations (and MANY others) far better than I can.  What I really want to tell you is this:

For many years I could not attend SCBWI.  How I longed to go!  But there were financial issues some years (I am a teacher, after all), timing issues other years (sometimes a family event fell on that weekend, sometimes, I could not afford to give up three days of precious summer writing time to go--I am a teacher, as I said).  However, this year, I was going and that's all there was to it.  I was putting all of the reasons I couldn't, including my hermit tendencies, into a box, tying it with a rope and putting it on the top shelf in a closet just like Frog and Toad did with a particular box of cookies they were hoping to forget about. 

 I wanted inspiration.  And I wanted to feel like a writer (even though I feared finding out the exact opposite---see insecure post below....)

But what I discovered, or re-discovered, is that going to a conference doesn't make you a writer.  Writing makes you a writer.  Putting your butt in a chair and doing the work, that is what makes you a writer.  As I reflect on this, I realize that all of those years I didn't go, and felt somehow like not a real writer because I didn't not go to conferences and talk about real writing with real writers, I was doing the work that I needed to do.  

I was writing.

So, if you were not able to attend this year, or any other year, don't feel bad.  The conference will always be there (I hope!) and there will be a time when things will line up in your life and you can go.  And when that happens, I hope you walk away with all of the inspiration that I did...but until then, remember, if you are doing the writing, You Are A Writer.



Stasia said...

So true, Shelley! Writers write. That's the beginning, middle and end of it. That said, wish I'd made it to LA this year because I would've loved to meet you in person! One of my favorite things about conferences is meeting (in person) people I've known virtually for years. Such a treat!

Unknown said...

I haven't been in two years. Maybe I'll go back one day. I've starting going to the RWA nationals instead. They have a lot more for YA writers and authors, but I do miss the kidlit keynote addresses. It's just not the same listening to the ones from authors of adult fiction.

Jeanmarie Anaya said...

So inspiring, Shelley. It's true--I, too, have sometimes felt insecure over not always attending conferences or joining in on every blog hop, contest, twitter chat, etc., on the subject of writing. Next time I feel that way, I'm going to remind myself that it's the writing that makes me a writer and not the other way around.

Kelly Polark said...

Inspiring post, Shellley! So wonderful you could finally go!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

This is beautiful! So glad you got to go. It is all about the children. We must keep this in the forefront of everything we do.

Someday, I'll make my way there...

Julie Dao said...

I remember some of those books so, so fondly. LOVED Sarah, Plain and Tall when I was in the third grade. How wonderful that the author was at the conference!

Laura Pauling said...

I saw so many tweets about Gary's keynote and would've loved to hear it and then shake his hand. I loved Okay For Now and I love his writing. Glad you were able to go and have a great time. I live on the East Coast and don't foresee ever going. :)

Hardygirl said...

Hi Shelley!!!

Well put! I loved getting to meet you in person . . . and what an inspiring conference. As soon as I tackle this laundry mountain, I'm butt-in-chair for days!


Janet Johnson said...

Sounds like it was wonderful. I'm really hopeful I'll be able to go next year. And congratulations on your new MG book coming out. I can't wait to read it. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it was a great conference.

Julie Hedlund said...

I wish I had known you were going to be in LA. I was there too and would have loved to meet you.

But I agree that going to a conference is not what defines you a writer. Writing makes you a writer.