My first time in LA was incredible, and oh how different it is from NY. I say this because for the past few years NYC has been my go-to city. After all, I studied there and I have some great friends who still live there. NY is great and there will never be another one quite like it, but LA… boy are you something!
When I first heard about the SCBWI conferences I never thought twice and decided NY was where I would be going. I’ve been to two SCBWI winter conferences in NY, but when my boyfriend told me he would be going to USC for the summer, I thought this was some sign I had to go there as well. I’m thrilled that I went to LA because the SCBWI summer conference is spectacular! It’s a three day marathon packed with inspiring and valuable information from the industry that we all love, children’s publishing.
I point out that it’s something that we all love because that is the most important thing to remember. It is what keeps us motivated and running. It’s a tough industry for everyone, new or old, but we have to remember why we are here and why we do it. Because we love it! And like Laurie Halse Anderson said, “ We defend, protect and celebrate childhood.”
The second most important thing is to never stop working, never stop creating. Matt de la Peña said, “It’s all about how hard you work when no one’s watching.” The creative process is sometimes a messy thing but don’t just sit and think, work and create and the ideas will come. Explore all ideas until you have the best story. David Wiesner showed us his process and it was amazing to see how much thought went into it. This helped me understand that no matter how long you take you should never stop exploring until you have your best result. Jarrett Krosoczka told us to “get to know our characters, write or illustrate things that might get cut out just to get to know them better.” Work on sketches, brainstorm and let the story develop. Sometimes the story becomes something you didn’t expect. Tell the story you are meant to tell.
Third and final thing to remember is what Mac Barnett said, “We have some of the boldest, most experimental readers.” Remember this because as children’s writers and illustrators we have the privilege to do things that are innovative and daring. Kids are willing to follow us to the more experimental things. So make yourself laugh, believe in your characters and go with your impulse!
The last couple of days I spent in LA I had the chance to relax and let all of this sink in, while visiting some great places along the way. LA, I will definitely see you