Monday, May 18, 2009

Raleigh Schmooze a Wet Success!

At starting time it was pouring down rain and only a few children's writers were milling around the food tables at Quail Ridge Books and Music. The chairs, set in semi-circular rows amidst the bookshelves, were basically empty. The book table, ignored.

My stomach cramped with the beginning of nerves. Had the rain drenched the spirits of Raleigh's children's writers enough to keep them home today? Would the wet and muck make this annual event a complete wash? The whole downpour thing was beginning to dampen my spirits...

But then the question came. "Can I join you? Is this the children's writer event?"

I said. "Of course, please sit anywhere! Do you write for children or teens?" The answer, "No, but I would like to."

And then everyone started paddling in, shaking off umbrellas as they hurried through the door. We were wet, but we were ready. Nothing could drown our enthusiasm -- afterall!
We ended up with approximately 30 attendees, exactly what we had hoped for. And with snacks and pens in hand we settled enthusiastically into our seats to listen as our speaker Kelly Starling Lyons shared about her books, her childhood, and how the two are intertwined.

It was another great paring of Raleigh's children's writers and the helpful staff at Quail Ridge Books.
Quite a few new people came, including one who sadly arrived after the event was over and wanted more info. about the SCBWI and how she could join. We look forward to seeing you at the Fall Conference in September, Jill!
Today, Kelly reminded us to "tell the story only you can tell." She encouraged us to remember the emotions that we had during important experiences in our own lives, and to "give those emotions to your main characters."

She shared the following tips to help us find emotion-laden experiences in our childhoods that can provide story ideas:

Write down the following:

1.) Your best family memory
2.) Your worst school memory
3.) Your biggest struggle or fear
4.) An experience or relationship that changed you.

Then - write down the emotions you felt next to each one.

Then - "create a child character that's centered around a situation you've faced," or "invent a new story that's informed by your feelings, thoughts, beliefs, experiences -- your life."

We had an excellent discussion. Hooraah for those brave souls who shared their Junior High experiences with the group!

Thanks to Kelly and everyone who braved the weather to come and talk about their writing, their dreams, and the emotions and stories they experienced during childhood! It was great to meet several new folks and to chat with writer and illustrator friends who we don't see often enough between conferences.

Now we look forward to seeing you all again at the September 2009 Fall event! I dare each of you to submit something before then, and to tell me about it there.

Remember, as Kelly said, "write from the heart" and "trust that the story you're writing matters."


Ian Sands said...

I had a great time at the Schmooozzee!!


Kit said...

So sorry to have missed it- looks like you guys had a great time and learned alot too.

Janelle said...

LOL Ian. I thought I saw water dripping off an invisibility cloak in the back there!

Kit, we miss you! Great to see you again!