The first morning of the Summer 2010 SCBWI Conference, participants were given the opportunity to listen to not one, but two great keynote sessions. The first with Jon Scieska, and the second with M.T. Anderson. Talk about getting the conference off to a great start.
Jon Scieska is hilarious. But you probably already knew that. During his keynote, he told us, in his fun and animated way, what he wishes he’d known when he was starting out. This list of Do’s and Don’ts was much more exciting coming from the man himself. For this post, however, unfunny bullet points will just have to suffice.
- Do congratulate yourself for being at the conference
- Don’t believe everything you hear
- Do read everything you can in what you write
- Do connect with what you like
- Do read children’s trade publications (he specifically mentioned Fuse 8)
- Once you start writing, stop reading the trade pubs; become an expert and then leave it to do your own thing
- Do submit manuscripts in proper format to the appropriate agent/editor
- Do not rhyme, or write another ABC book
- Do be a storyteller, because storytelling cuts across all, regardless of form
Anderson started his keynote with an entertaining explanation of why he isn’t a good traveler. He loves to travel, but it’s much better for him to stay home.
Which is why he likes writing. Because he gets to travel anywhere he wants from the safety and comfort of his home. He quoted Viktor Shklovsky:
“Art exists that one may recover the sensation of life.”
Anderson shared the following points:
- Books take us away from home so we can actually see home and return to it again
- Books force us to see what we know in a new way
- Alienation is what takes the reader on this journey of seeing new
- Alienation can be literal (a journey to the unknown) or can happen on an emotional level
- Language can lead the reader into the unknown; can call attention to itself and make readers see words in new way
- “The basis of horror is the domestic turned into something frightening.” – Freud
- Writers should press themselves to ask dangerous questions, play with language and give readers a new way of seeing the world
Finally, Anderson ended his keynote with a song. The theme song he wrote for Delaware. Thankfully, someone close to the stage captured it on video and posted it to YouTube.
Get ready to laugh.