I attended Writer’s Day on 4/16/11 for the first time and had an amazing experience. The day was full of insights, lessons, and inspiration from some of the best in our field, including: Margaret Miller (editor at Bloomsbury Children’s Books), and authors, Susan Patron, Tony Johnston, Rachel Cohn and Bruce Coville. The learning I took away from the day was tremendous. I left the event with a sense of admiration for our field and new respect for the work we put into it. I also gained some permission for myself to breathe. If I don’t finish that picture book draft this month, it will be okay. Susan Patron wrote her first published novel (and winner of the Newberry Medal), The Higher Power of Lucky, over the course of 10 summers while working full-time.
I took pages of notes, but some of my favorite nuggets from the day, include:
- “Growing up is something that happens in the details of every day” (Some thing Susan Patron learned from Beverly Cleary)
- I connected with Tony Johnston emotionally as much of what I write stems from something that stirred inside me as a child. She gave me several nuggets: “Keep alive to everything and a story will find you.” “To be caught by feelings, we must know what our feelings are.” “Writing is about risk taking. Don’t play it safe.” “Whatever you write, trust yourself.” She also captured my heart with her collection of quotations. I do the same and it reminded me to pull out my collection for motivation from time to time.
- “Don’t give the reader a chance to walk away. Start in the middle where the action is already happening.” (Rachel Cohn talking on the topic of “first pages.”)
- Bruce Coville mesmerized me. He has a new fan. I can’t wait to read the book he signed for me and share it with my daughters. His whole lecture captivated me. I really liked how he opened “We build dreams in fantasy – and that’s what lives are built from.”
I also loved this event because it gave me the opportunity to connect with other writers. As fate would have it, I ended up sitting next to a recent writer friend I met through The Torrance Children’s Writers Group (check out her blog: www.thewritingnut.com). I have attended one of her workshops, but haven’t been able to chat one-on-one. The event was a great venue for sharing our passions and learning more about what we are looking out of getting in the group.
True to form, I left with a to do list:
Read my signed novels and start reading more kids lit for fun.
Look up the LA Public Library site and make a “date” to go visit.
Check out the blog “Anonymous” by fellow editor friend of Margaret.
Save the date for “Working Writers Retreat – September 9-11, 2011 and submit for a Sue Grant Scholarship to attend (content opened April 16th).
Did anyone else attend the event? What did you think?