I arrived into New York just as the city emerged from its day-long shroud of fog. After a lengthy journey comprised of flight delays, refueling, and diversions, landing at La Guardia finally became a reality as did a malfunction on the subway, resulting in an even later arrival into Times Square. But weather and airline issues aside, it was a wonderful weekend at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Winter Conference.
If I had to describe the SCBWI Winter Conference in four words, they would be: Faculty, Friends, Failure (I promise I will explain this one!), and Future.
Faculty: Electrifying keynotes encompassed a vast array of topics, from the locales at which well-known authors choose to work (quite often, the public library) to how they craft their award-winning books. The distinguished faculty enlightened us on a variety of topics from the rising role of self-publishing (and how traditional publishers are interacting with successful self-published authors) to the challenges illustrators face when presented with a new manuscript.
Friends: It was a truly a weekend of networking, learning, and inspiration. I reconnected with many wonderful old friends and made more new friends than I could have imagined. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the openness and willingness of SCBWI authors and illustrators to share their knowledge and help others on their journey to publication. I met many new colleagues who listened eagerly to the challenges I face in my current manuscript and offered options to help me soar over its last few obstinate hurdles.
Failure: One of the most memorable keynotes explained “failure” in the most positive light I’ve ever experienced, helping the attendees to understand that it takes practice and persistence to get that manuscript to the place where it can leap successfully into the market. I left with a new mantra: Don’t be afraid to fail, for failure is the seed of success.
Future: The weekend also provided an in-depth analysis of our responsibilities as authors to our future readers as well as an update on the challenges many writers are beginning to face with trends in the banning of books.
Before leaving the city that never sleeps (much like the participants of an SCBWI conference), we meandered through the stunning architecture of Grand Central Station. The hustle and bustle provides a people-watcher’s paradise, but what I enjoy most about this phenomenal building is peering into the entrances to the train tracks. Where are the steel beasts traveling? Who will descend the Track 110 corridor to join the journey? What new friends will they encounter? What will their future hold?
I wish for those travelers the same inspiration and motivation with which I am leaving the city, as well as a few new friends to inspire and enlighten them along the way.