SCBWI Los Angeles 2012

by E.V. Jacob on August 7, 2012

This past weekend, we at Ravenhart had one of the most amazing experiences of our lives.  Attending the SCBWI (that’s the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators) conference in Los Angeles this summer was absolutely incredible, and definitely one of the best things we’ve ever done for our writing career.

The conference was, first of all, a lot of fun.  Everyone was very nice, very friendly, and very supportive – it’s incredible to come together with such a fantastic group and share your dreams and have someone get it.  As a mother-daughter writing group, we’re lucky to have each other for constant support, but it was still incredible to see so many others who shared our passion and our dream.

I’m not going to impart any specifics of the wonderful knowledge that was shared with us at this conference, but I would like to share a few of the key points that everyone seemed to agree on, and that I think are some fantastic ideals to keep in mind when writing, for any genre or age group:

1.  Write the story you want to read.  Don’t cater to market trends, or to editors, or agents, or what you think people want to read.  Write what you want to read, and if it’s for a younger audience, write what you would have wanted to read when you were that age.  And write it because you love it, because it moves you, because the characters are precious to you, and because the story simply cannot remain inside your head – it has to come out, whether it explodes out, or you write it down.  And writing it down is a lot less messy.

2.  Put your heart out there.  That doesn’t necessarily mean sad or deep – this applies to funny things, too.  But whatever you’re writing, be it silly and fun, cute and lighthearted, dark and depressing, or profound and moving, it has to have emotion.  It has to have soul.  You have to feel something while you’re writing, and it has to come from somewhere emotional.  If you do that, your reader will be engaged, and then you have them.

3. Write in the way that works for you.  Everyone has their own method, everyone follows their own path.  Just do your thing, find what works for you, and keep at it.  Persistence really is key.

Naturally, there was a lot more, but I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or cross any boundaries, so I’ll leave it at that.  I will share with you some of the quotes I found particularly moving, though – there were many amazing quotes, too many to list, but a few of my absolute favorites were:

“What does ten-year-old you want to read that adult you can make?” ~ Tony DiTerlizzi

“Break the rules.  The greatest artists are not the ones who follow the rules, they are the ones who do something that’s never been done before.” ~ Dan Gutman

“Your genius is in accepting your genius, and looking for it in your work.” ~ Karen Cushman

“Never give your readers a good spot to shut the book.” ~Jay Asher

“Write stories that will give your readers more to be a human being with – that is what all good art does.” ~ Gary Schmidt

Go out and be inspired, and every time you see someone gushing over a book, some kid online drawing fan art for their favorite series, or someone telling you about a story you have to read…it started as an idea, and just like that author sat down and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to give the world that story, you, too, owe it to the world to share your story.


“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~ Elanor Roosevelt


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