It was my second National conference, and it was a challenge to soak up everything around me while maintaining my writer’s focus. It reminded me of the parable of the wheat and the tares. It is the one about a farmer whose enemy planted weeds in his field. The farmer decided to let it all grow together so he wouldn’t risk pulling out any wheat when he pulled up the tares. Then at harvest time, he separated the good from the bad.
One thing I’ve noticed about writers and illustrators is they are emphatic people. They use words with conviction, and they persuade. The only way I can cope is to let it all sink in. Later, when it comes time to use it, I cut it down and separate what is helpful from what is not.
So, after all that advice has grown, what did I find helpful in
• We need to be glad we are part of an international organization that promotes children’s literature. SCBWI is making a difference within children’s literature on a global scale.
• Writing and illustrating children’s books is a professional endeavor. When you turn in your manuscript or portfolio, you turn it in to your first reader. The temptation to think of an editor or agent as someone who will collaborate with you is presumptive.
• There is more than one path to success, and a well written story is more likely to get published than a not-so-well written one. Hard work and constancy are keys to being published.
• The effect of the economy on the publishing world was a popular topic. Several speakers referred to this as the purifying of the market. They saw it as good for children’s literature as a whole. It was noted that even in the Great Depression, books sold more.
The overall mood of the conference was upbeat. We are living in an exciting time in the world of children’s books; the 1,000 attendees at the conference were proof. There is a lot of potential in this world and SCBWI, our very own chapter, holds a key to openning much of it.