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.
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 In ten years time what does it matter if the cultural references are out of date - it's a story set in a particular time and place - not being 'current' hasn't hurt Enid Blyton.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...