Monday, February 20, 2017

Out-and-about: REcharging My Batteries

Two weekends ago, despite rain, hail, sleet and snow which went by the name Storm Niko, I caught the last plane out of Chicago to attend SCBWI’s 18th Annual Winter Conference in New York City.

Scientifically-speaking, my creative powers needed rebooting.  What better way to REcharge my batteries than to return to my primary energy source – my community of like-hearted children’s book creators?
April’sRee would have loved the experience. J

One thousand one hundred and twenty-one attendees – representing forty-eight states and several continents - gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel to learn, grow and best of all, connect.  Forty per cent were published authors and illustrators; sixty per cent were pre-published. 
SCBWI Co-Founder and Chief Executive Lin Oliver lovingly refers to the organization’s 25,000 global membership as “our tribe.”
While the organization’s stated mission is “to support the creation and availability of quality children’s books around the world by fostering a vibrant community…and to act as a consolidated voice for writers and illustrators of children’s books worldwide,” the members – locally, state-wide, regionally, nationally, internationally - serve as my tried-and-true energy source when I seek the means to keep on keepin’ on.

Award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier’s opening Saturday morning keynote had us all on our feet, holding on to our dreams.
“Your dreams should steer you!” he told us.  It was bigger than the book, he reminded us.  “Somebody’s waiting for you...” he shared, “waiting to hear your story!”

Saturday afternoon NY Times best-selling YA author Iranian-American Tehereh Mafi’s keynote tightened our hold on our dreams.
She’d written and queried five books before the one that sold.
“If you do not give up, you will not fail.”

Closing keynoter, the award-winning Sarah Pennypacker, sent us on our way with E.B. White’s words: “A writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false.  He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down.  Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.”
Sarah Pennypacker proudly shared that twenty-six years ago, she’d attended her very first SCBWI Conference, taking heart and hope from that Conference’s award-winning keynoter – one Natalie Babbitt.  She boldly confided, almost whispering, that she’d known in her heart she’d someday be on an SCBWI stage cheering members on.

In between there were:

Panels (Four Types of Picture Books, Children’s Books and the Social Media World, the Current Landscape for Children’s Books), Workshops  (World Building, Acquiring an Agent, To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme, Writing the YA Novel – just to name a few), Socials (Illustrators, New Members, Regions, LGBTQ), Portfolio browsing, Gala dinners and autograph sessions.

Here are just a few of the nuggets attendees tweeted out in the course of the weekend:

"Everything you are awkward about is the very thing that makes you so special." - Bryan Collier #ny17scbwi @joshfunkbooks

“If you find something that inspires you, dig into that a little deeper." – Andrea Beaty #ny17scbwi @cuppajolie

“Your passion is what’s going to set your book apart.” – great advice on Nonfiction for kids and teens from @emily6560 #ny17SCBWI

“A lot of standing ovations at this conference. Why? Because we are fortifying ourselves to fight and write for the good of kids. #ny17scbwi @mbrockenbrough

The Good News, re-source-wise, is that YOU can attend the Conference too – albeit vicariously- some 2 weekends later, and power up, simply by clicking here. Be sure to set aside some quiet time, a quiet place and a big cup o’something.

Simon & Schuster Art Director (and debut children’s author!) Laurent Linn exhorted us to take Joseph Campbell’s words to heart and “follow our bliss.”

“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn't know they were going to be.”

If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.”

How could I not get my creative currents flowing again, plugged into 1121 children’s book creators who were following their bliss?!

Here’s to Happy Recharging!

Esther Hershenhorn

PS from Carmela: If you haven't entered yet, don't forget that our giveaway of Tuktuk: Tundra Tale (Arbordale Publishing), by Robin Currie, illustrated by Phyllis V. Saroff, ends this Wednesday, February 22, 2017. Click here for details.


April Halprin Wayland said...

Oh! Esther! Your recharging is recharging ME! Thanks for summing up this clearly stellar conference.

Bobbi Miller said...

I love this quote: “A writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.” What a nice roundup!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thank you for the inspiring reminder, Esther! I've been to the NY conference only once, & it left me with fond memories of our tribe. I'll be sure to check in on the conference blog.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks, April, JoAnn and Bobbi, for taking the time to share your appreciation.

It's so nice to know our community is there for us when we need a shot in the arm!

Carla Killough McClafferty said...

Thanks, Esther for this post.