Sunday, August 7, 2011

SCBWI 2011 - Friday

The annual Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Los Angeles is one of the highlights of my summer, even when I feel seriously guilt-ridden at luxuriating in rooms full of my favorite kind of people - writers - when I have SO much to do at work.

Unlike ALA, which is so directly related to my job, SCBWI is more peripheral, and yet it's this conference more than any other that reminds me, over and over, about the power of children's books.  Though I no longer personally hand books to kids (well, except for the ones in my family), I'm deeply thankful to be in a line of work in which I still have a role in getting the right book to the right child.

I'm also grateful, down to my bones, for authors and illustrators - who make my life worth living and my job worth savoring.

Now - on to the conference!  As it's impossible to give you the full Fabulosity that is SCBWI Annual, here are some tidbits from Friday:

Over 1400 attendees, including a record # of men – over 150. “You brave soldiers - welcome,” says Lin Oliver to them. Someone from every state but South Dakota; 70 people from over 20 countries.

Bruce Coville:
Questions our society's claim that children are our best resource, when we are cutting schools and libraries, while corporations get wealthier.

Progress toward justice comes in fits and starts, but we are indeed moving forward.

Craft - “Craft without inspiration leads to basketweaving, but inspiration without craft leads to modern art.”

Ripples in the pond – everything we do has an effect that moves outward, even if we can't predict how.

Lots of advice for writers, including these 2 points:
  1. Marry rich
  2. Embrace the unfinished “chord” or thought or plot line. The reader doesn't need to know everything; keep them thinking
Jerry Pinkney:

Grew up in tradition of oral storytelling, which has informed his visual storytelling (he was enthralled by how the stories created images in his mind).

First book, Adventures of Spider, is still in print (since 1964)

Marla Frazee and Allyn Johnston

The two have published some of my faves, including Everywhere Babies and Harriet, You'll drive me Wild.

New one coming out – Stars

Picture books are meant to be read aloud - every single one of 'em. 

Libba Bray:

Yes, Libba is as hilarious as her books are. One-liners, snark – fabulous!

Her message? “Embrace the Suck.” She offers us a tale from the trenches, using the 3rd of her Gemma Doyle series. First 2 books were a blast, but the 3rd – she had nothing, and finally turned in a 565 page novel – a clunker that she had 2 months to pull into shape. Way past deadline, her novel was up to 900 pages, only 100 of which was from the original manuscript.

Advice for writers:
  1. Gather your tools for survival - “your book is in there, buried under the one you hate” - figure out how you like to work – setting, rewards, support group
  2. Avoid the quicksand – irrational fears – don't listen to those friends, family, blogs, articles, etc. stay safe inside the writing cave
  3. Perfect wants to vote you off the island, but better wants to make an alliance – don't get paralyzed by the need for perfection. Lower your standards! Give yourself manageable goals
  4. Explore the whole island – explore different formats, tenses, perspectives, narrators, etc
Yeah, and that was just the tiniest glimpse into an amazing day.  Next up - Saturday!

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