Gennifer Choldenko, author of Newberry Honor winning Al Capone Does My Shirts, gave a great keynote address during the Summer 2010 SCBWI Conference. Her talk was full of inspiration and advice for both kidlit authors and writers in general.
Here’s a summary of her key points:
- There will always be a market for stupendous work.
- Suit up and shut up.
- EB White killed off Charlotte; don’t be afraid to dig deep for the truth in your work.
- What you experience while writing, your readers will experience while reading.
- Keep a notebook with you at all times. Eavesdrop. Take notes. People watch.
- Build a world and make it your own.
- Look for the doorway in your story and walk through it.
- If you’re not totally engaged with your work, something is wrong; go back to where you were engaged and start from there.
- Once you have your first draft, reread it to see what you’re avoiding.
- Give yourself space to take risks.
- “Next time, fail better.” Samuel Beckett
- Take care of your writer self.
- Focus on quality, not quantity.
- Push your protagonist to do something the reader would never do.
- Realize critique groups aren’t for everyone.
- Write books worth promoting.
- Revise ruthlessly.
- Trust your gut.
- Rejection happens. Get on with it. Get over it.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Think of the one kid who needs your book.
Throw your heart over the edge and follow.
Pour yourself into your work. The writing is the real thrill.