Ten good reasons to attend a writers’ and illustrators’ conference
Being surrounded by exceptionally talented people can make you feel a) despondent; b) inspired or c) a mixture of both. The way to stay sane when attending a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference is to soak up as much information and advice as your brain can handle while at the same time hanging on to your self belief that you’re in the right place at the right time. What’s great is that people who are at the top of their game in the business are so encouraging and thorough in helping other people to succeed too.
So, what did I learn?
1. That I need to put more images in my blog and avoid huge chunks of text. (oh, ok then. Here’s a pic. Better? Now carry on reading)
2. That it’s ok to be eccentric, silly or flamboyant. In fact it’s useful if you want people to buy your books. Phew.
3. That the worst thing you can do as a writer is write boring stuff.
4. That professionals give brilliant critiques, dismantling your story with such skill and care that you feel at the end as though you’ve had a makeover and shed loads of excess baggage.
5. That I now have even more entertaining blogs, posts and websites to follow that I did before (like Nick Cross, www.whoatemybrain.com, Lynne Chapman ‘An Illustrator’s Life for Me’, www.lynnechapman.blogspot.com and several more but that’ll do for starters or I’ll end up being guilty of the large chunks of text thing again)
6. That it’s ok, in fact quite useful, to think like a ten year old (Good – does that mean I can stop wondering what to do when I grow up?).
7. That everyone is talented in a totally different way.
8. That publishers really, really want to find something spectacularly good on their slushpile.
9. That getting it wrong is just something that happens on the road to getting it right.
10. That to sell books you need to be a tart and flaunt your front cover at every opportunity. (oh, ok. Here it is again – what every child from 8 to 80 needs to know about marine conservation….. not quite ready in time for Christmas, but I think it will be January, with the official launch in March)
So now it’s back to the drawing board – currently on The List are: drawings for the next Yachts & Yachting magazine, drawings for a brand new magazine coming out in March (more details soon), drawings for the German publisher of RYA Go Inland who wants the British narrowboats replaced by something more European, unsurprisingly. And the heap of Christmas commissions that aren’t quite finished, along with half finished paintings for the studio exhibition. Perhaps I should get off the keyboard and pick up a pencil. Time to put the kettle on, then.