Writers’ Day: November 6, 2011
SCBWI Central/Coastal California Region
What a busy weekend, and finally its Monday.
I dropped the kids off at school and now I can sit down and write.
(Of course after the short walk I have to give my dog, Wally, or he’ll stare at me and cry all morning.)
Thank you Alexis O’Neil. She is so warm, talented, funny, and she even can sing.
The morning began with me walking into the California Lutheran University auditorium and seeing my friend Lisa wave at me to have a seat. Already, my day felt right. Going to these conferences in the past I felt like a deer in the headlights. I would meet really nice people but was so overwhelmed with learning this world that I felt like I was walking around in a blur. This conference was the first time I was all there. Like I belonged to this world and I welcomed the embrace they so warmly offered. I met people for the third or fourth time but it was like the first time because I was no longer an outsider. True, I’m not published and I am still pretty green, but these are my peeps, my “tribe” as Lin Oliver so eloquently put it in her talk.
Speaking of Lin Oliver, the co-founder of SCBWI and an extremely successful author, she gave my favorite talk of the day. The title was “The 15 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Writing” and then she added, in only 48 words. I might as well give you, the readers and the ones not scared to step into Meredith’s Mind for a couple minutes a week, these words of wisdom. They might sound simple and obvious, but they are gems, brilliance, and so important.
1. Take a lot of showers. (Inspiration: where do you find yours?)
2. Read deeply.
3. Keep a journal.
4. Follow your weirdness. (Don’t be afraid-you can do it-I won’t laugh…too much.)
5. Do the work.
6. Write in scenes.
7. Frustrate your main character. (It might hurt a little-but it’s worth it.)
8. Build your vocabulary.
9. Eavesdrop. (People can be pretty funny when they don’t know they’re being heard.)
10. Read all of your work out loud. (It’s incredible what you can hear.)
11. Shorten it up.
12. Don’t ever talk down-children are not sentimental.
13. Do Not Preach! Influence.
14. Give the children the power. The child Must solve the problem.
15. Join the tribe. SCBWI has been so welcoming to me. I love being with these people.
So, right after Lin Oliver finished, I turned to my friend and said, Well, that’s worth the price of admission right there.
The day continued with wonderful authors being spotlighted:
Mara Price: author of Grandma’s Chocolate.
Catherine Linka: speaking about the Paranormal Romance.
Cynthia Hand: author of Unearthly.
Lee Warlaw: author of WON TON- A Cat’s Tale Told in Haiku.
Eugene Yelchin: illustrator of WON TON.
And Ross R. Olney, the author of over 180 fiction and nonfiction books and a SCBWI Member of the Year. Mr. Olney gave an inspirational talk. My favorite line of his was when he said, “I have no talent. Keep trying. Don’t Quit. Write.” Okay, well obviously he has a massive amount of talent, but I felt the take home message of the day was Don’t quit, write. And that’s just what I plan to do,
The end of the day came after the reading of first pages with the wonderful editors, Sally Doherty, Elizabeth Carpentiere and Judy Burke along with Lin Oliver giving their advice. Mine wasn’t picked, but still felt the nerves of the possibility of being picked, then disappointed when it wasn’t.
Anyway, Writers’ Day was over and it was time to pick up my critique. Why do I always get a pit in my stomach when waiting to get critiqued? It’s the same feeling I used to get when I anticipated the teacher calling me for an answer to a question. Will I be good enough?
Well, I guess the answer is- if you ask for a critique, you’ll get one,
Now, the hard part. Reading my critique. It was good with helpful suggestions. So, now to go and do the work. To write. Can’t wait.
Have an inspirational week.