Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sunday at the SCBWI 40th Annual Summer Conference

Although most of us were beyond exhausted at this point (especially after the festivities of the night before), Sunday brought the conference to a memorable and motivating conclusion.

Four literary agents discussed the state of children's book publishing, particularly in this ever-changing market of ebooks and self-publishing.  It was interesting to get their perspective.  I expected to feel discouraged, but instead was inspired by the dedication and passion of the agents to fight for their clients and their belief in the old-fashioned book.

Gary Paulsen was a very special surprise guest speaker.  Of all of the speakers, I may remember him the most in the future.  Tough, honest, opinionated, funny, and simply extraordinary, his life story is an incredible novel itself.  Actually, his life story could be multiple books.  What comes across immediately is, that while he seems a bit of a curmudgeon, he has a heart of gold when it comes to kids.  In his life, writing for children is his priority and his love of nature comes second.  He lives his life to the extreme, even in his 70s.  Listening to him speak, was a truly unforgettable experience.

Gary Paulsen - my new hero

SCBWI had an awards banquet over lunch.  Congratulations to the Golden Kite Award Winners:  Pocket Full of Posies by Sarah Stern, Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg, Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan, and Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm.

Another surprise guest speaker, during the luncheon awards ceremony, was the infamous Richard Peck.  An eloquent speaker, he emphasized the need to tell stories and the impact they have in children's lives. Again, as an audience member, it was an inspiring experience.

Honestly, I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the conference, but I know that this was an experience of a lifetime.  I heard and met literary legends.  I can't express how important and emotional this conference was for me.  I do know that I will never forget it.  And that I feel that I am no longer alone in my struggles as a writer.  Also, it has reignited my passion for writing.

If you ever get the chance, attend this conference.  And if you write or illustrate for children/teenagers, please become a member of SCBWI.  Personally, since joining, I feel like I've come home.

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