Back from the New Jersey SCBWI Summer Comference 2011: we’re all in this together!
Just back from Princeton, New Jersey, and let me tell you — wow, what a conference!
A group of super-talented writers, fun, approachable published authors, passionate agents and savvy editors took over a Wyndham resort for the weekend, for yet another massive exchange of ideas, knowledge and creativity, all in the name of writing for young people.
The best thing about the whole endeavor was the right energy, I think. At some conferences I’ve been to, I saw fear and annoyance flashing in editors’ eyes at an approach of a desperate, needy, waaah-when-am-I-gonna-be-published attendee. But what I got here this past weekend was the beautiful, we’re-all-in-this-together vibe that felt incredibly refreshing — and right. Because, hey, we ARE all in this together.
The field of writing for young people (and I would imagine, writing in general) is a place where, at least I like to think, we are not really competing with each other. Yes, editors hope to woo the beautiful manuscripts with the right idea to THEIR houses, and yes, writers want the agents to fall in love with THEIR queries, and yes, YA authors target the same teen audiences.
But underneath it all, we aren’t the pharmaceutical industry. We cheer each other on. We brainstorm each other’s stories and give up precious writing hours to critique our friend’s book-to-be. Published authors speak to the unpublished ones from the place of remembering that hey, this is where they were, a few years ago. Agents tirelessly champion the books they believe in. Editors are trying to keep books alive.
I had such a great time at the New Jersey SCBWI conference, because it was laced with that spirit.
Okay, so maybe not everyone who attended this weekend’s conference will become a published author one day. But, to me, that isn’t the point. The point is: anyone who attended this conference, or another conference like it — or anyone who stayed home to work on their craft behind closed doors, CAN get published. The opportunities are there, along with a whole industry of people who, underneath all the fears and the trends and the worries, want us to write good stories, who love books and want young people reading them, and who, ultimately, want your story to be heard.
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