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Saturday, November 12, 2011

My First SCBWI Meeting

I don't get to these, usually. Somehow, they always seem to clash with theatre or opera or some other thing I have to attend. But yesterday, I managed to get to my first meeting of the Melbourne chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, being held in a restaurant in Carlton, Lygon St.

Children's writers tend to hang out together or at least meet at conferences. It gets embarrassing when someone calls you by name and you can't remember who they are.

Luckily, we all had name tags, but I found there were a few people I knew - Errol Broome, an older writer who says she's had enough of writing for now, Goldie Alexander, with whom I did a panel at the crime conference, my friend George Ivanoff, whom I have known since before either of us sold anything or even realised we were children's writers and Gabrielle Wang, that wonderful writer of gentle fantasy tales for children and a gentle YA fantasy, Little Paradise. I was a bit embarrassed to meet her because my students had prepared an interview for her and the file got lost!

I explained and, while I plan to have it on this blog, she says she will have it on her own as well, if I can get them to find that file!

Meanwhile, I bought copies of her book, A Ghost In My Suitcase, to be signed for them, and one copy of Little Paradise, which I think will be enjoyed by the one who has read the others.

There were two guest speakers - Alison Reynolds, who wrote a series of choose-your-own adventure books with an environmental theme with Ranger Sean Willmore, and a lady who teaches editing and talked about common grammar errors, giving us examples taken from real books, starting with Thomas The Tank Engine. Both were fascinating. I always wondered how you'd do a CYOA-type book - it must be very difficult.

My grammar is pretty good already, but I did agree that any story that doesn't get its grammar right is far less likely to be picked up than one which does.

There will only be two meetings in Melbourne next year, the others will be outside, but there was a tantalising hint about another Sydney conference - must check it out!


Lan said...

It's so cool that you get to do these kinds of things Sue! One day I hope to be able to do the same. Although, it's funny you mention grammar because mine's usually okay but when I'm writing on my blog I tend to just spew words without thinking about how they sound. The same goes for my novel writing. Sometimes I just have too many thoughts I guess.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Who says you can't join? There's associate membership for people who are just interested in children's writing but aren't yet published. I've never checked it out, but I suspect the only difference would be voting in AGMs - and I haven't been to one of those since I joined. Go check out the SCBWI web site and see if it suits you. And then maybe we'll meet at the first melbourne meeting next year? :-)

Blogs are personal, so your grammar can be whatever you like. As for your novel writing, I'm sure you check it out before submitting. It's better to have "too many thoughts" and get them out on paper than sit there blankly because you're not sure you got it right. That's what drafting is for! I keep telling the kids not to worry about how it looks till it's all out on paper, but will they listen? :-) They sit there fixing every sentence as they write it!

Satima Flavell said...

That sounds like a very productive meeting, Sue. I also love the writing and editing groups I belong to! It is so refreshing to discuss matters of mutual interest with like-minded people - and the networking is invaluable.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Absolutely the networking is great - or,as Jack Dann said once, "You've gotta hustle! Always hustle!" I met him once at Swancon where I happened to be meeting my then-publisher, Dyan Blacklock. When I introduced her as "my publisher" I watched his ears prick up and his hand reach for a business card! As was only right. And sometimes it's just nice to meet fellow writers and talk shop. And, in my case, get to meet people I admire so much I can;t get more than a few words out. Like the time I met Paul Jennings at a party...