Posted by: Betsy Devany | May 20, 2011

The NE SCBWI Annual Conference-2011

I am still reeling from this past weekend: a glorious three days spent with writers, illustrators, and professionals in the field of children’s literature. The NE SCBWI conference was a thorough success, and not just in my opinion.

Something was different this year. Maybe because we were enlightened by the presence of the SCBWI founders Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser. Or perhaps it was that the writing goddess, Jane Yolen, captivated us. Whether she was speaking, walking the hallways, or signing books, she brought her brilliance, her passion, and yes, her wonderful sense of humor to the event.  Add the one and only Tomie dePaola to the mix and the almighty Harold Underdown–at times sporting a Boston Red Sox hat–and . . . talk about surreal.  I was in writing heaven! And on top of this, we had the opportunity to watch a screening of Library of the Early Mind. Everyone, at least in the field of writing for children, needs to see this. We were honored to have the two filmmakers present: Edward J. Delaney and Steven Withrow.

Richard Michelson had us on the edge of our seats with the story of how he became a prizewinning poet and children’s book author.  I plan to visit the R. Michelson Galleries located in Northampton, Massachusetts. You should too. His speech surprised me at times, but went right to the heart. Good writing at its best.

In truth, every speaker, including all the workshop presenters, was fabulous. In between workshops, the hallways were filled with glowing comments.

My head spins from all the information I obtained, the wisdom I absorbed, and the inspiration that now fuels my writing. So much so that I have put aside my notes and let my subconscious do what it does best.  As always, once I get all my new ideas on paper–thus to lessen the overcrowded feeling in my brain–I will sort through my notes and organize them accordingly. (I will blog about this actual process in the coming weeks.)

Like Whispering Pines, I plan to break up my posts on the conference, partly because I am bogged down with preparations for the upcoming New Jersey SCBWI conference. I am a committee member and volunteer, and I have lots to do before I head down Interstate 95 for Princeton, New Jersey.  (For those attending the conference, I look forward to seeing you. Please seek me out to say hi if we haven’t met before!)

Thank you to the conference committee for all their diligence and deep commitment to having the best conference possible. They achieved this goal, and much more!

I am eternally grateful to the Ruth Landers Glass Scholarship committee for choosing my middle grade novel, Savannah’s Mountain, to be this year’s recipient of the award. I humbly join the list of past winners, and I promise to honor, more than ever, my commitment to writing quality children’s literature. My congratulations to all the illustrators who won at this year’s conference.

The word I will leave you with is the word I remember the most from the conference: community. It came from Lin Oliver, and I cradle that word in my soul where it keeps me warm, and not feeling so alone at those moments when I need it the most.

Community. Let the word roll off your tongue. Feel its power, it’s undying support. In the business of writing for children, we are fortunate to be a loving and sustaining community—unlike so many other professions where greed and jealousy prevail. Writing and illustrating is a solitary experience. But we are not alone. We are in this together, supporting one another, cheering one another, and encouraging our peers. Yet, we must honor the necessary process of being by ourselves. We must close the door and find that place, which takes us out on a limb, alone. Sometimes scared, but hopefully always driven to create. To create the very best that we can.

Keep that sense of community before you escape to the work that only you can write. Then turn off the phone, the internet, the fighting desire to sink your bottom into the couch and flit from site to site, from Face book to Amazon ratings, to anywhere else because you fear the empty page.

You are not alone in that fear. Yours is not the only empty page being stared at. At this very moment, all over the world, there are writers and illustrators and creators–your vast community–having those same thoughts. Fighting those same struggles.

Believe in yourself. Give the world your very best work. Create what only you can create. And always, always, feel the support of community. Know that when you reach a personal milestone your community celebrates with you. Be thankful for this. I know I am.

I will be back next week with more from Celebrating Milestones. Thanks for stopping by!


Responses

  1. Great post!!! And congratulations!!!! Every year, my love for SCBWI grows. We are so lucky to have this community.

    🙂

    Jo

    • Thanks, Jo! I wish I had been able to spend time with you at the conference. You truly inspire me. I love reading your live journal. Betsy

  2. Wow, Betsy! What an event! How wonderful! And of course, all your terrific thoughts are a joy. I’m really looking forward to working with you at the NJ conference in a couple of weeks 🙂
    Donna

    • I look forward to seeing and spending time with you! Betsy

  3. You’re right, it was a great conference! And you’re right, I can’t imagine my writing life without other writers.

    • Thanks, Shoshana! Happy to have you in my community! Betsy

  4. Betsy, that was a great post and so wonderful for you to win the Ruth Glass Scholarship. Congratulations! I wish you many more successes. I came home from the conference and did as Jane Yolen suggested…BIC!!! Take care. Carol

    • Thanks, Carol! I am glad you had a great time. I’ve been BIC all week long, but it’s feels great! I got lots of writing and revising accomplished. Keep at it! Betsy

      • OK, for those of us who didn’t get to hear Jane speak… what is “BIC?” lol
        Donna

      • As only Jane can say, BIC stands for Butt In Chair. In other words, if you want to be successful, get your BIC and write. Betsy

  5. Betsy,
    You’ve captured the magic of the conference! Congratulations again on your award.
    Yay!

    Cameron

    • Thanks, Cameron,
      I can still see and hear you and Julie giggling in the workshop. You two are so funny together. I love it. Hope to see you again soon! Happy writing! Betsy

  6. Great post, Betsy! Yes, SCBWI–and the people within it–have made such a difference in my life. Aside for the success I hope to have as a writer, most of my closest friends are from within the SCBWI community–such a treasure!

    Congratulations, again, of winning the Ruth Landers Glass Scholarship! Well deserved! Lynda

    • Thanks, Lynda! It meant a lot to me to have you in the audience when I read at the Tassy celebration. I anxiously await the birth of your first book! Betsy

  7. Congratulations on being selected for the Ruth Glass Scholarship. I agree, it was a truly memorable conference, and I learned SO MUCH!! It made me get up and dance. Marilyn

    • Thanks, Marilyn! You have always been an inspiration to me, starting with your presentation at one of the SCBWI Shorelawn Events. I enjoyed dancing along with you! Betsy

  8. Great pictures! It’s funny seeing myself up there at the podium… I’m so proud of you for winning the scholarship and so glad that the conference inspired you (and so many other people!)

    • Kathryn, you look natural at the podium, and you will run the conference with skill and knowledge and enthusiasm. I look forward to 2012 where I will cheer you on with great pride.
      The 2011 conference was indeed one of the best, thanks to your involvement!


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