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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Inspirational, Informative and a Social Whirl!

Wow! 10 Years of the Society for Childrens' Books Writer and Illustrators of the British Isles - and what a success story it has been!

Attending the Conference this year was

a) Incredibly Inspirational:
So many big names in childrens books shared their pearls of wisdom, whilst a HUGE number of fellow SCBWI members celebrated book deals, publications, and awards - including Carnegie nominations (plural! for the fab Keren David - When I Was Joe and Candy Gourlay - Tall Story) it was inspiring just to mingle in their midst. 

b) Wonderfully Sociable
Writing can be such a lonely activity - by its very nature it's a solo enterprise and while I'm actually very lucky in that my Mum's also a writer so we usually spend our days side-by-side on the sofa with our laptops typing away, or critiquing each other's drafts - but whenever she's out or away, and especially now I'm (finally!) about to leave home, the prospect of working day after day alone in an empty house does feel very isolating.

It's so wonderful, therefore, to such fantastic occasions to meet other writers in the same boat - friends made over Twitter or Facebook finally meeting in the flesh - as well as new friends met for the first time. The social supportive comradery of the SCBWI is truly incredible. 

c) Interesting and Informative
For we were not there only to shmooze and idolise, but to learn - about honing our craft, about the markets, about publicizing, promoting, and social networking...

So what did I learn?

1) That it's okay - nay advantageous - to be an internet slut. (It certainly hasn't hurt Carnegie-nominated Keren David!)

2) It is possible to literally devour a book

3. That writing 'Contemporary' fiction can be both a blessing and a curse:
Your work can 'date' really quickly - beware of slang and cultural references.

Or treat it as a contemporary historical novel - just without all the historical research - we're living it! In ten years time what does it matter if the cultural references are out of date - it's a story set in a particular time and place - not being 'current' hasn't hurt Enid Blyton.
Or you can hedge your bets by updating these references in a few years time - as long as the story is timeless, so should the book be.

4. It is possible to write a Carnegie-award nominated novel in 3 months, and blogs in 20 minutes.
If you are the superhuman Keren David.

5. Always interview prospective partners/friends/flatmates to assess their potential future usefulness - lawyers, the police, doctors will prove extremely useful resources down the line...

6. Writing's about what you can get away with! As long as you get the important facts right, you can invent much of the rest! - Creative license! 

7. Even when you think your editing might be finished, a workshop with the inspirational Miriam Halahmy will make you want to go and attack it with red pen all over again!

8. Writers read blogs, and teens use your Facebook page - sometimes to flirt with each other...

9. Dave Cousins has an incredibly impressive array of hats!

10. Don't get too distracted by tweeting and, erm, blogging, as it's the writing that counts. Um, on that note...


Nick Cross said...

It wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't written all of these blog posts about the conference! It feels like the social whirling is still going on, which can only be good.

You're right, it was very inspiring. In some ways, writing and getting published is like building an army, and there was definitely something revolutionary in the air at the conference. Tomorrow the world! ;-)

Candy Gourlay said...

you and your mum are so cool! and keren is a factory disguised as a human being.

Dave Cousins said...

These posts are great. I keep being reminded of stuff I didn't write down in my notebook. It's like being able to copy someone else's homework!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Nice post - I can't wait to do it all again!

Unknown said...

excellent post - thanks!
now I see how we missed each other at the conference - you went for the sessions I'd have gone to if there had been two of me :)

Miriam is an inspiration - hope you're not seeing too much red.

katie dale said...

Thanks for your comments, guys - it was a great conference and it was so lovely to see you all, and great to be able to read everyone's blogs & catch up the workshops/talks I missed!

Sue - next time! And quite a lot of red - but all good! :)

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