I'd like to touch on just a few things that stood out to me this year, and then offer links to two other great blogs about the conference.
My favorite keynote speakers were Drew Daywalt, Jon Klassen, Pam Munoz Ryan, and Sophie Blackall. WOW. They were raw, funny, and so very encouraging in their words and ways of approaching this creative pursuit of making children's books. I think these might be the most inspiring line up of speakers that I connected with personally out of all the conferences I've been to.
Drew Daywalt noted that one has to be vulnerable (the title of his speech was "Does this Keynote Make My Butt Look Big?") He encouraged us to "capture our own essence" by exploring what shaped us as kids. A great place to start looking for material!
Jon Klassen, speaking about Finding One's Voice, said to not think about yourself and what you want when making work. Rather, engage in a process of elimination of all the things you don't want in your work (things that don't resonate or inspire you). Chop off these things you don't want, and what's left is you. It's a task of intuition. And as you grow and continue to learn, ask yourself what you can create really well with your current skill level. For example, Maurice Sendak didn't like drawing horses because he wasn't very good at it, but this didn't stop him even though his book dummy was titled, "Where the Wild Horses Are". Instead, he chopped them out and the book became "Where the Wild Things Are."
Pam Munoz Ryan divulged some dark secrets, confessions rather, that we could all relate to (I think...if we're all human that is). Confessions such as the fact that she doesn't write every day, she still takes criticism personal, that the work never gets easier, and that she has no muse. What a relief! And I thought I was the only one...
Sophie Blackall nearly made me cry. She was great! I think it partially was due to the charm of her Australian accent, and the fact she's a great storyteller, and had excellent quotes, and sometimes ponders strange things like I often do. Who knows, except that I really connected with her keynote and feel incredibly inspired to look at life in a whole new way, as well as to continue looking at life the way I do now. The main takeaway was this: creativity is like a sourdough starter - it must be fed and used and given away in order to keep it going. Also, my favorite quote from her is this: "when an object inspires awe, buy it!" She shared with us her very odd curiosity cabinet of items that she had purchased. I am definitely going to pay more attention to what captures my wonder! Hopefully I won't be spending too much money while at it.
Here are two other blogs I recommend checking out. My fellow illustrator friend and conference buddy, Lauren Gallegos, and her overview of the conference:
And of course, the *Official* SCBWI conference blog
Thanks for reading!