Conferences for children’s writers offer a host of perks. Editor’s Day at the Santa Ana Zoo is a good example. First of all, the setting always makes me feel like a child again. Tarzan was one of my early heroes, and I guess I never got over liking the feeling of being on safari.
Second, I got to renew old acquaintances and make new ones. I wasn’t the only one. I observed lots of business cards being exchanged — as well as lots of hugs! One of the best things about children’s writers is that they are not only eager to find markets for their work — they are supportive of each others’ efforts. It seemed to me that the room was full of excitement, and more than once I overheard someone being congratulated for a job well done.
Third, we got to take out our notebooks and write down all those words of wisdom that editors threw our way. I know that I recorded some memorable quotes. I was particularly interested in the need for series and (probably because I have just finished another editing of The Quicksilver Tree) I am intrigued by the idea of creating a “set-up” of characters, with the possibility for many different stories about them.
More than one speaker stressed the importance of understanding whom you are writing for — of realizing the importance of where you grew up — of making imagery specific to the character’s view of the world, and of creating a point of no return — all things that I intend to ponder.
I will be going over my notes carefully for the next few days, gleaning bits of wisdom, highlighting what applies to me and what I’m writing. I’m sure everyone who attended will do the same thing. It would be fun to compare notes. I’ll bet we all wrote down a lot of the same things. That’s just another example of how we are a real community of people who are trying to write the very best literature possible for young readers!