Monday, October 6, 2008

The Writing Life: Solitary or Solidarity?

There were many great presentations at the SCBWI Carolinas 15th Annual Fall Conference, on Sept 19-21st. But the thing that struck me most during the conference was the way that being a part of the writing and illustrating community strengthens each individual writer/illustrator.

Many people perceive literary artisans as solitary types who write alone for hours at coffee shops, (which of course, is what I’m doing right now). And certainly the quiet, working time is an important part of the writing life. (Ah, it’s a labor-intensive, and yet wonderful life!) But, without the writing community I doubt that many writers would succeed. We need each other. This was clear from the small groups of writers chatting earnestly about plot, structure, queries, and characters during every down-time moment at our great September event. And when we filed into workshops with notebooks and pens in hand, we stopped to hug friends who we hadn’t seen since last year's conference, but who had read our blogs, and critiqued our work via the internet, and called to say “I wish I could take you out for coffee” when we reached a writing or personal slump.

There are so many things that the writing community gives to writers, and I’ll list a few that I observed at this year’s conference. (If you noticed others, I’d love to hear about them!)

1.) Encouragement and Support:

2.) Kindred Spirits and Camaraderie:
Here, no one thinks writing a novel is “crazy,” and everyone will tell you “you can do it!

Martha Mihalick signs Ian Sands' Goal Stick.

If there had been a prize for the most creative way to remember the many writer/illustrator-friends, editors and speakers joining him on this publishing journey, it would go to Ian!

3.) Education, Feedback and Resources:
Our speakers were great! What wonderful tips!
Thanks: Anita Silvey, Alyssa Henkin, Martha Mihalick, Karen Lee, Leslie Staub, Pam Zollman, Mark Johnson, Carol Baldwin, Bonnie Adamson, Samantha Bell, Stephanie Greene, John Claude Bemis, Eleanora Tate, Alan Gratz, Teresa Fannin and Jo Hackl!

So, here's a salute to a great conference of networking, support, education, revision and affirmation. And here are kudos to all the writers and illustrators of SCBWI Carolinas. I’m so thrilled to be part of such great group of writers/illustrators – such a great group of Friends! May our solidarity keep us writing, resourced and refreshed. Onward and Upward. We will lift each other over the publishing hump! Many hands, hearts and minds make the work an inspiration.


C.R. Evers said...

I agree. I heard a lot of people say that they had been burnt out or discouraged, but after the conference they felt renewed and ready to get going again. I'm sure it's more about being around the people than the actual sessions, because a lot of these people didn't really hear anything that they didn't know before, it was more about the environment and the folks. :0)

Janelle said...

I second what you're saying, Christy. :)I heard a lot of burnout entering the conference this year -- but most people did seem more ready to get back into writing at the end.

Of course, there's always the benefit of a little helpful competition at these events too. When we see our friends getting published, we congratulate them wholeheartedly, but in our minds we also say -- "Doggone it! Next year that got to be me!" : )

Bish Denham said...

You are blessed indeed Janelle, to have a network like yours. I am quite isolated so I value the "interstellar" connection.

Janelle said...

I'm so honored to be part of your interstellar network, Bish! : ) Looking forward to "seeing" you this coming Monday!

I wonder, is there not also an active SCBWI chapter in your state -- for conferences??

just Joan said...

Sounds like a great time! One of these days I'm gonna get myself to a conference. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.