Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Final SCBWI Conference notes...

Gal darn it... I wrote down quotes at the Conference so I could blog about 'em, so I will do just that, even if it didn't end up being day-of stuff.

Nina Laden, talking about picture books, said "the words are the bones and the pictures are the flesh." Nice image, I thought. Mo Willems had said "if you read a picture book text and can see everything... it's not a good picture book text." It truly is a collaborative medium... more in the sense that the pictures and words must collaborate, not just a writer and illustrator. Editor Elizabeth Van Doren had much to say about PBs, but I wrote down this as kinda a unifying theme in what she thinks helps make a good PB story: a universal experience treated originally. We heard the artistic side of the PB equation talk about what goes into making and designing a lasting picture book. As a writer, it was fantastic to hear that perspective explained so clearly. And did I mention that Jodi Reamer said that the picture book market has improved?

Again, and I do think this is wildy important, we were constantly reminded that publishing is a business. You have to accept that and treat it appropriately. As editor Nancy Siscoe noted, publishers are not patrons of the arts. They DO love what they do, love their books, and are wildly passionate advocates for them. But at the end of the day, there is a bottom line.

Some of that bottom line "stuff" was demystified when agent Edward Necarsulmer IV and editor Mark McVeigh conducted a mock contract negotiation in front of us all. Not only where they hilarious, but the explanations they about what choices have to be made, what processes they go through, and WHY it all happens was something that made much of the business end clear in a way I'd never heard before.

And mixed in with all that information were nuggets of inspiration from countless sources. I think I'll end with two quotes, the first from Paul Fleischman: "Doubt is to writers what headwinds are to cyclists." You have to believe in what you're doing, and you truly do have to love it. And finally, the plucky Jane Yolen delivered the closing speech (and, it was noted, had been the keynote at the very first SCBWI Conference). As she has 287 books published, she felt she was in position to offer some useful observations in the form of 10 Rules for Writing Success. Trust me, everyone listened!

Her speech was the perfect conclusion to the Conference, because she noted that we can talk craft, analyze, research, join the community and so much more, but the one thing we all need to do to have a chance at success could be summed up by her very first Rule:

Write the damn book.

In fact, I gotta book, since that is exactly what I need to go do.

6 comments:

cynthea said...

Hey Greg, good to see ya. And my, what a set of notes. Anyhow, I just wanted to say I was so happy to hug you. What a story, what a man. Many more success wishes to you!

Gregory K. said...

And right back at you, Cynthea. Your blog, I must say, is buzzing... and boy can you dance!

cynthea said...

Who?!
Looks around the room.
Me?!

Hahaha. Let's just say I didn't get to dance enough when I was a little girl.

"That's what you get, Momma, for not putting me in ballet!"

Enough said.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing up the high points of the conference. I think I will hang Jane Yolen's closing quote above my writing desk. Gotta book, too. I'm suppose to be writing!

thetoymaker said...

Greg! Hello!

Thanks for the great notes! The Edward Necarsulmer IV and Mark McVeigh was funny and informative!

It was all good!

Write On!

Marilyn

Alexandra S said...

Yolen's phrase stuck with me so much too that I gave it the title of my very next blog post when I got back from SCBWI!