(this is what my eyes looked like after that first day…)
This past weekend was the SCBWI conference in NYC at the Hyatt next to Grand Central Terminal. It was a fantastic, overwhelming, moving couple of days. The keynote speech by Jack Gantos flew by in a flash. How he could show pictures of lists and charts and yet still be wildly entertaining is something to study. He told How to Write a Picture Book, a middle grade book, a chapter book, in great, generous detail. He showed us pictures of the library in Boston where he works, every day (he even has his own locker there, like an employee). That is perhaps the key–he works at it every day. Like a job–which it is, of course.
Kate Messner spoke on the Spectacular Power of Failure, which sounds grim, but was in fact a very neat talk. She encouraged the room to celebrate our small successes and not continually set the success bar higher and higher so we never have achievements that we recognize for ourselves. You know? She said that when the painter Chuck Close finishes a painting, he does the last brush stroke, puts down his brush, turns on some Aretha Franklin and boogies to celebrate. Very good practice! Of course that also means that he knows exactly when something is done…
Listening to all the presenters, and hearing the questions from those in the audience, I couldn’t help but wish that I had some postcards for The Successful Artist’s Career Guide on me–missed marketing opportunity. So many of the people in the room were trying to make a living as artists and writers, and in the book are interviews with kids book illustrator Jennifer Sattler as well as with graphic novelist GB Tran, and of course, the amazing illustrator Marshall Arisman. They tell how they made it happen, and are making their art careers and lives work, and I find their words continually inspiring.
Lin Oliver, as the emcee and head honcho of scbwi, is always fun to listen to. She is so warm, and clearly loves what she does, loves kids books, and has a great deal of respect for the craft and the community. That everyone loves her is also apparent. Thanks, Lin and Stephen, for another wonderful conference experience.
Nancy Cisco, editor at Knopf, gave a crackerjack talk on the middle grade novel–what she likes and loves about her favorites. These are some of my unreadable notes–but I think the eggs are all the possibilities…all the middle grade novels ready to be incubated and hatched out–in ME, I hope!