All Together Now…
Last week, I posted about what I learned at the New England chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (NESCBWI) spring conference. As I reflected further, and continued to talk with my spectacular critique group (which has a new member: welcome Annie!) I realized that one of the highlights of the conference was the absoutely giddy celebration of the successes of our members.
Then, to take it a step further, I realized that one of the things I love about being a writer in general is the community involved. While there are always those who try to spoil the party, I’ve found that the writers I’ve met are genuinely excited to meet other writers, share craft “secrets,” dispense advice, commiserate, and share in each other’s successes.
And why shouldn’t we be? Creation of literature is something to celebrate. We’re all in this business because we love books. To see more great books being created, and nurtured, and to see people who are just like us grinning at the publication of their books, is just more joy in the world.
Jane Yolen, author of hundreds of children’s books, gave the end-of-conference “rouser” speech, to send us off into that good night ready and inspired to continue to do what we love. What was the most important thing she said? I’m paraphrasing (I’m not a note-taker), but it was something akin to:
If you can’t appreciate each other’s successes, if you can’t celebrate with each other, then get out. Get out now.
Guys, we need each other. We need each other to spread the word about our books, to tell people who have their heads up their butts about whether or not children’s literature is “real” literature to try and read some sometime. We need each other at those times when we’re absolutely, positively, without a doubt certain that we suck worse than anyone who ever tried to write anything. We need each other when we’re under massive deadlines and feeling like there isn’t enough coffee in the world to get us to the finish line. We need each other when well-meaning friends and family who don’t get what being a writer means (“haven’t you been working on that book for a while?”) make us feel like we’re not accomplishing anything.
If we can be there for each other in those dark times, why shouldn’t we also be there for each other during those glimpses of sunlight? Why shouldn’t we cheer from the sidelines?
So celebrate together. Call attention to each other’s books. Go to readings at your local bookstore. Share your “secrets.” If this support results in a lot of great books out there, we’re all doing something right.