Well, another SCBWI Winter conference has come and gone, leaving me wiped out but jazzed up at the same time. I would like to say right here that the WRITER'S INTENSIVE on Friday was a great addition to weekend. I personally feel all set to work on my next book as a result of the feedback and suggestions from my fellow writers, as well as the editor and agent who led the two discussion groups I was in. It's a good idea to make sure that the event takes place yearly, but I would also like to see something of the same caliber organized for illustrators led by art directors and editors and agents, too. Big thanks to Linda Sue Park for putting the seed of the idea for the Writers' Intensive into the conference organizers' heads and for helping to bring it to fruition! PLUS: she also gave a great "surprise" afternoon keynote speech, too! "All ya need is love!"
Susan Cooper's opening keynote took me to another time and place so effectively, and made me think long and hard about where one digs within to find what gets played out on the page. Her deep voice and deliberate style of speaking was hypnotic and I was lost in the magic of her words and story telling.
Saturday's lunch Key Note was Ann Brasheres. I felt that the most important part of her presentation was her message about choosing reading lists that don't take the joy out of reading. In other words, don't overload kids with too much fiction that is in that "dark" place. She shared how her fifth grade son stopped reading after reading too much literature that brought him to tears. I was very tuned into this train of thought in particular because if you scroll down to the last three paragraphs of a post I made on Feb 3, you'll see that I said EXACTLY the same thing myself in a post titled Fiction as lesson.., when I spoke about my own fifth grade son's descent into what I called his "YEAR OF LIVING DEPRESSINGLY." What a strange coincidence...
Brian Selznick knocked my socks off with his explanation of the process for creating his newest book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. What a treat to be taken along for the ride as he showed us an excerpt from Fortunately , a book which inspired him and was written and illustrated by Remy Charlip in 1964, and still in print.
Brian spoke of books as film, in a sense, which as an illustrator really hit home with me; most of us usually dummy up a manuscript as though we are directing a film. I can't wait to give his book to my youngest son, whom I think, as a reluctant reader, will really get off on it. I have to say that Brian Selznick's whole style was thoroughly enjoyable, funny and refreshing.
Finally I have to say that Katherine Paterson brought me to tears. Literally. This happened when she spoke about her daughter Lin, who struggled at times with the need to understand the circumstances of her adoption (not hard to figure out why I was crying, eh?), and also when she told a story about the sudden death of her son's best friend as a child. I could follow her life in my mind's eye vividly at each step along her journey to become the writer she is. She is a master storyteller in recounting her own life. But when she read from her book, Bread and Roses, Too I decided she could be a wonderful actress, too! And an artist. Her attention to the details of a scene were told as though she painted the picture.
I guess Katherine Paterson and Susan Cooper especially touched me in a way that reminds again why it is I attend the Winter Conference every year. These two women just blew me away with their substance and they both left me inspired beyond description.