At the end of Day 3 of the conference and humbled by the rigor and glory of the gathering. There are 3-5 keynotes and panels a day, with breakout sessions in between. One highlight from yesterday was Marion Dane Bauer, whose quiet strength and honestly brought the crowd to tears. She reminds me of one of my favorite authors from childhood, Eleanor Farjeon. Something about the immediacy of her imagination and her easy access of it as a child, and that this informs her writing. She spoke of the themes that appeared over and over in her writing without her being aware of it, and her resolution that as long as she told a true emotional story she could be assured that she wasn’t writing the same story over and over.
This gentle woman, disguised by her grey hair, glasses and subdued dress, showed her steel early by saying that she subscribes to Aristotle’s “purging of pity and fear” through her writing, “my own and the reader’s.” That knocked me out. She was recognized today at the Golden Kite Award luncheon for her recent book The Longest Night.
Agent Lisa Grubka’s query letter boot camp was both daunting and helpful. Though there were many Don’ts on her list, she was also encouraging and clear. When she referred to having a thousand emails in her inbox every day I just shook my head and had a little inner moment of gratitude for not being her.
This photo shows the spirit of the Heart and Soul poolside party in its mild form – my camera conked out pretty quick so no images of the sparklier and lightbulb festooned attendees. Let’s just say there was light and silliness, much heart and mega soul, starting with the DJ. Dance floor filled fast and stayed that way and the NW was representing.
Today started at 8:30 with a remarkable panel of biographers talking about creative nonfiction. Fantastic insight into not only research but the use of sources and the storytelling, a lovely, funny, inspiring look into the writers’ methods, passions and the relationships they develop with their subjects. Must read? Charles and Emma by Deborah Heligman. I could write more about the panel and the other keynotes of the day, the Golden Kite awards today and the artists’ portfolio event last night, but there is hardly time.
In a morning breakout, M.T. Anderson reinforced my admiration for the IQ of his trousers by comparing William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and Dr. Seuss’ One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish in his talk on experimental forms in children’s books.
The end of the day was a keynote by Rubin Pfeffer on the state of publishing and what it means for content creators like us. I think about this a lot so I was glad for that conversation to come to the fore, and for Rubin to suggest that SCBWI might consider becoming a publisher, in order to model excellence in digital media/books for children and young adults as they have modeled excellence in printed forms since 1971 when the organization started.
Tomorrow is the last day of this gathering. I’m planning to be up, packed and ready for every minute of it.