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Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CAThe SCBWI San Francisco/South Golden Gate Conference (at Asilomar) was earlier this month, my first conference in over a year. Such an amazing conference! I can’t believe I was so short-sighted, to go that long without attending a writing conference.

Oh sure, I had the standard rational excuses, that made perfect sense. Taking a year off from writing conferences would save time, money, and effort that would further my work in progress.

What I totally forgot, was how invaluable it is to connect with people who share the same passion. Writing can be such a solitary journey. I always come away from a conference with my creative energy renewed, and a feeling of deep kinship with others who are called to the writing journey.

Motivational Milestones & Inspiring Insights

Initially, I think of  conferences as motivational milestones for my current work in progress (WIP). I admit I am motivated by fear. So when I sign up for a professional critique, I am dangling a figurative hatchet over my head. I will work harder than ever to deliver the best possible pages by the submission deadline, out of fear of public humiliation. I put my self through this trial, because feedback from the editor of a major publishing house is invaluable. I always come away from such a critique with tools for improving my craft, and a clear path for strengthening my story.

Just as important as professional level feedback though, are the insights that arise from the talks and workshops given by the conference’s faculty.

Award winning illustrator E.B. Lewis reminded us all, writers and illustrators alike that:

We’re in the business of amazement.

Jodell Sadler, of Sadler Children’s Literary, invited us to see:

Language is music  … music is language.

E.B. Lewis delivered the most profound insight (for me) with his presentation on the language of pictures. He explained the components of an image that make it a story: narrative (plot), emotion, and anticipation (what’s next). A light bulb went on in my head when I realized that these are the same elements that comprise a well crafted scene in fiction.

Stories aren’t bound by format or medium. E.B. Lewis told us of a young boy who said he “writes the pictures”. We writers, paint with words.

E.B. Lewis, profile picture and quote

Synergy Happens

Creativity is contagious, and the Golden Gate Conference Brochure cover synergy at conferences is nothing short of miraculous. Sparkly new ideas dart about like fireflies, lighting new pathways of possibility.

I learn something from everyone I meet at a conference, and the connections forged can blossom into friendships that last years. 

If you’ve ever thought about writing for young readers, join SCBWI now. SCBWI provides extensive professional resources to its members. You won’t find a more welcoming and supportive group.  And they’re super fun.

I feel fortunate to have found the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). They are my tribe, my people.

[All images are my own]