Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's about the people, stupid.

The SCBWI Symposium in Bologna (and the Children's Book Fair) are already fading into the past. I've been swamped with work and/or traveling since then, but I had to post something about the symposium before moving on because it was a great success for me personally.
Why was it a success? (I'm glad you asked.) Did everyone drool over the pieces I submitted for critique? No. Did anyone proclaim me to be the next J. K. Rowling? Hardly. Did I find an agent who thought I was a genius? I don't think so.
The symposium was so great for me because this time I dared to just be myself and to connect with people on an honest, open level. My approach was like, this is who I am and this is what I wrote. The result: I got to know a bunch of extremely interesting and gracious people -- who turned out to be just nice folks, after all.
For example:
- Richard Peck, Newberry Medal winner and speaker extraordinaire, but also a friendly, down-home boy from the Midwest, like me (Ok, I'm from the South, but close enough).
- Ellen Hopkins, multiple New York Times bestselling author. She's brilliant, but anyone would mistake her for the mom next door (she's that too).
- Leonard Marcus, famous critic, historian, and author of children's literature -- who also happens to be one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.
- A gang of talented writers and illustrators from SCBWI Germany and other SCBWI regions

Oh, and by the way, I'm convinced that one or more of the people I met at the symposium will also eventually play a part in my writing career -- but that's just icing on the cake.