My 10 “I Am’s” from #LA11SCBWI

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  1. I’m tribal. I belong to a tribe of kidlit lovers – People of the Story – writers, illustrators, agents, editors, readers, bloggers with whom I feel instantly bonded. A sense of belonging that carves through differences and barriers. This is a beautiful experience.
  2. I’m dangerous. “Art disturbs the universe,” states Laurie Halse Anderson. My weapons are my keyboard and my craft. Your books can change lives.
  3. I’m individual. And so are you and your story. Libba Bray challenged, “readers are not trends.” Let’s tell our unique story and not compromise to the market on our message. No one else can tell my story.
  4. I’m vulnerable. Donna Jo Napoli and David Small, from what I can remember through the tears I shed through their keynotes, exhorted me to share from my memories of pain, injustice, lack of protection. These stories produce the empathy we so desire to grow in our world. “If you need to write it, chances are, there are people out there–a lot of people–who need to read it.” Donna Jo. This is scary !
  5. I’m diverse (or at least trying to be). Cross cultural characters come naturally to me, that’s been my entire life as an adult. I have no problem having one of the siblings in my chapter book having mild CP, but realize I had been resisting having a different character, an eleven year old girl, be questioning her sexuality. No longer. The great LGBTQ lpool-side chat on Friday led by Lee Wind fully allayed my reticence about this. My character simply needs to be true to all she is and is becoming.
  6. I’m honored – to be part of this fabulous organization. SCBWI rocks. More power to the great pioneers of this group, Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser.
  7. I’m challenged. I still find the whole question of finding an agent and a publisher to fall in love with my stories daunting (British understatement!). However, having seen and heard a number of agents and editors: sharing their hearts and own vulnerability, reducing me to heaps of laughter, having a few (and a few more) drinks and generally revealing their humanity, I also sooo look forward to developing partnerships with some of them in the future.
  8. I’m informed. Emma Dryden took us on a bumpy and truly informative ride in some little known (for me) publishing territory, which is weathering some transforming storms right now. So glad for her in-depth research making her a stalwart guide for us on this trip. With all these facts to absorb, I was warmed that Emma topped and tailed her message with the gentle truth that “story matters most.”
  9. I’m infected by these literary giants; old and new, with whom I have been weaving these past days in LA. How can one not be somewhat drunk on their provocative prose? These writers and illustrators are contagious and eager to reach down a hand to pull newbies like myself up to the next creative cloud.
  10. I am so gonna get an Iphone! 

I could write pages, but if you missed out on this 40th anniversary SCBWI conference, I strongly suggest you read through the official Team Blog from the entire 4 days.
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12 Responses to My 10 “I Am’s” from #LA11SCBWI

  1. Such a fantabulous experience, Joanna. I have attended a number of international conferences, but rarely have I come across anything that touches the soul as deeply as I believe the SCBWI has done. I am very happy for you – I also think that ultimately you get back what you give as well – your openness and vitality to life’s experiences have made this more enriching and meaningful. I can sense the vibe and the high all the way here in Singapore. I can’t wait for your book. =) Have a safe trip back home, wherever home is. =)

    • Joanna says:

      Thank you, Myra, so glad you can feel some of the emotion across the interwebs! This conference was kind of the motivation behind this trip and to be honest has not only been the highlight of my vacation, but also of the year thus far. Home is where the cats are, which happens to be in Nice at the moment 😉

  2. Diane says:

    Wow! Joanna what can I say except brilliant, yes brilliantly written. Right through all ten “I am’s”, each one penetrating, reminding me of my time there, yes even your vulnerablity had me in tears remembering how I felt too, listening to those keynotes. How I would give anything to be able to record and listen to them again and again, such inspiration. A great roundup, thankyou for keeping it alive this way.
    Loved meeting you, Joanna. A shame our time was short, but have a feeling we have some common interests, lets hope we meet again soon.

    • Joanna says:

      Thank you, my kiwi friend. It was wonderful and natural to meet you in person, Diane, and with our common traveling passion, our paths shall surely cross again on one continent or another.

  3. Patricia Tilton says:

    Absolutely the most unique and brilliant description of our wonderful SCBWI conference experience. What a memorable record you have created. I loved reading your blog, as will others. Such an out-of-body experience, that I’m still in the clouds. We are so fortunate to have linked with such a supportive and generous community of authors, agents, publishers and illustrators.

    Enjoyed rooming with you at the conference. Had such a great time with you.


    • Joanna says:

      Aw, thanks Pat. So enjoyed meeting up with you at last, as wonderful as I had anticipated! I will indeed be treasuring these memories as we move forward – a very special experience and so much fun 🙂

  4. Wow. What an excellent way to sum up all the thoughts and emotions of that wonderful conference. Thank you for writing this.

    As Diane and Pat have already said, it was great to meet you. I hope our paths will cross again, but in the meantime we will have a continued friendship through the Hub and our blogs. I am feeling so grateful for the internet just now, and especially for the Hub. The day Emma thought up the Hub was a great day indeed.

    • Joanna says:

      Thank you, Beth. There are so many great blog posts out there about #LA11SCBWI that I hesitated writing one. In the end I did it more for myself, to reflect on what had uniquely touched me.

      I loved meeting you in LA, Beth, and look forward to all sorts of continued interaction.

  5. And I am so envious that you were there – lol!

    Great post. Courageous post. Funny post (love #10)

    • Joanna says:

      Hi, Julie, thanks. Hopefully I will meet up with you at another SCBWI conference.

      Communque, sono contenta che il vostro giro in Italia era cosi bello!

  6. I hear it was a wonderful conference, and the energy certainly comes through. Thanks for the pithy summing up.

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