Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dragons led me into SCBWI

Dragons led me into SCBWI.

For some people the kite is the symbol of SCBWI, for me it is the dragon - the one on the 1982 cover of Jane Yolen’s Dragon’s Blood. This cover expresses the writer’s journey as well as the essence of the story. It's about facing our dreams.

The book tells the story of a boy raising a fighting dragon in the sands of Austar IV. His eventual win gains him freedom from slavery and wins him a chance to be his own master.

Note the facial expression. Here is a person who has taken on a challenge bigger than he is, and has just begun to realize it.

In order to train his dragon, Jakkin, the main character, uses a technique to link himself mentally with the beast. This mental link becomes essential for him to control and train Heart’s Blood, his pit dragon champion.

The link in the book reminds me of the writer’s tenuous connection to our characters. Characters, like the dragon, will inevitably become much bigger than their authors. It is our strong mental link with them allowing the author to guide and train them so they will be effective.

Jakkin falls in love with Akki, the girl on the cover. She helps him, though her help often seems more like mockery to the reader. Throughout the book their relationship is strained at best. To the writer, she is the onlooker in life. The idly interested one, who can only help so much - after all it is Jakkin’s dragon. No one else can really train it.

The ever-present bondbag hung around Jakkin’s neck represents the bondage we have to our works. Just as Jakkin must empty his bag to buy food and entry into the fighting arena, so we empty ourselves of inspiration and hope before our works can fill us in turn.

To me dragons represent the dreams of every writer and illustrator. SCBWI has made us dragon trainers - like Jakkin. Best of luck dragon training.

No comments: