With 1,300 writers and illustrators all under the same roof, these past three days have been a whirlwind of inspiration, creative energy, and a true sense of community. There’s something special about people who want to create books for children, and whatever that something is, I've felt it in every workshop, every speech, every event, every interpersonal interaction. Conferences are great for networking, and from established authors to agents to editors to newer writers, everyone here has been gracious, kind, and passionate about what they do.
When I return home, I’ll be able to form better thoughts on what I’ve learned and how I can apply it to my own YA writing. But for now, here are a few snips of the inspiration and information I’ve absorbed:
- Bruce Coville and Jerry Pinckney, who both gave keynote addresses on the first day, offered this message: create what scares you. According to them, it’s important to write, not what you can, but what you think you can’t. If you don’t doubt your ability to tell the story your want to tell, then you’re not going deep enough. Go deeper.
- The amazing, warm, and hysterically funny Libba Bray spoke about her own struggles with the writing process/writer’s block and very eloquently summed up the “fail faster to succeed sooner” principle of needing to suck before getting it right.
- There are many wonderful young adult agents and editors here, and they are looking to acquire new books from debut writers. They want to see books that are different than the current trends or that play off the trends in a fresh way. A few YA specific interests that were mentioned: light science fiction, thrillers, horror, and contemporary stories told with interesting plot devices.
- Judy Blume is freaking amazing.
And besides all that…children’s book writers and illustrators know how to have fun. And nothing is more fun than jazz hands.
So here’s Deb Driza….and her jazz hands…