A ducky eat bunny world

There is an interesting debate about the merits (or lack of them) of membership in SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) over at Fuse# 8 Production. (Thanks to Read Roger for the link.)

If you are a writer for kids/teens, read through the various arguments. They are interesting.

My opinion? I would not be published if it hadn’t been for SCBWI. Plain and simple.

I joined in 1992. I had some experience as a journalist and a burning desire to write for children, but no idea how to go about it. I went to the first conference organized by the SE PA regional chapter (and the dynamic duo of Sue Campbell Bartoletti and Lisa Rowe Fraustino) and started my slow learning curve. For years I attended conferences and slowly began to learn how to improve the quality of my writing, and how to submit my manuscripts and behave as a professional when my work was eventually published. Both of the editors that I now work with consistently were people I first met at SCBWI conferences. (They cheerfully rejected my work for years when it was sub-par.) SCBWI gave me the tools I needed to forge my dream of being an author into reality.

(Please note the time line for anyone who is looking for an overnight success: started writing: 1992. First picture book published: 1996. First picture book out of print: 1998. First novel published: 1999. Still working very, very hard to learn how to write better.)

I agree with the posters who point out that SCBWI doesn’t offer as much for published writers as for people new to the field, but I still keep paying my dues and feel deeply connected to the group. If you want to write for kids and teens, do yourself a favor and join today.

Other opinions?

10 Replies to “A ducky eat bunny world”

  1. Off-topic

    Laurie, were you at the Joyce Carol Oates lecture in Syracuse last night? I saw someone that looked like you, but was afraid to ask.

    If you weren’t there … they showed an awesome video tracing the history of the Rosamond Gifford Lecture Series … which included a great quote from you, describing your feelings as you stood at the entrance of the library (the cathedral), as they showed a wonderful shot of the old Carnegie Library downtown.

    And Joyce was brilliant and hysterical.

  2. Re: Off-topic

    Yep, BH and I were there. I had on a red/orange scarf and was busy taking notes. Where were you sitting?

    I’m going to post about it tomorrow.

  3. Re: Off-topic

    I was in row J, almost in the middle, down front. I actually saw the person I thought was you walking out. Were you wearing a heavy bracelet?

    Two of my wonderful friends got me season tickets for my birthday (the big 40!), along with meet-and-greet, so I was able to meet JCO and have her sign my copy of The Falls. I wish I had taken notes. Actually, I wish she’d PUBLISH her lecture. I can’t wait to read your post about it.

  4. it’s clearly this week’s hot issue. next week there will be another. this is what i have learned from the internet.

    i always suggest that new writers join scbwi; it’s a way to meet peers, to refine one’s craft, and (most important) to Learn the Rules.

  5. SCBWI

    I responded to this on Fuse’s blog earlier in the week. I’m not published yet, but I am active in my SCBWI chapter and helped plan the conference we had last weekend. SCBWI has been valuable to me so far. I can’t imagine leaving after I’ve had some success because I will want to continue helping others.

    I don’t think it’s SCBWI’s fault that the published people stop coming to conferences and are less involved in the local regions. There are a lot of opportunities for published members to help newbies AND other published members. For example, some chapters do a great job of promoting their author/illustrator visits and new releases–a job a newbie would not be nearly as interested in as learning the biz.

    As with anything, you get out of it what you put into it. Mold it to be what you want it to be. On the other hand, it’s a business. If, after providing feedback, it doesn’t suit your needs, there’s no reason anyone has to do business with them!

  6. Thanks for linking to this discussion. I’m an SCBWI member, and have found it nothing but valuable. I work in children’s publishing (as an editor at a small magazine housed at a large publisher), and I would say I’ve learned almost as much at SCBWI conferences as I have from three years of working in the business.

    Of course, I’m a beginner. 🙂

    On an unrelated note, my writing group has been passing around an ARC of Twisted. I think all of us read it in one sitting–starting as soon as we got home from one of our meetings. Sleepless nights for us! Thanks for another page-turner. 🙂


    Dear Laurie,

    I am 14 years old, and a freshman. I just finished reading your book, Speak, and i decided to email you. Unfortunately, this was the only way i found to get in touch with you. By the way, this comment has nothing to do with your entry. Sorry!
    I was just hoping that maybe you would email me back on something. I just wanted to say that i loved your book. My mom and i are always talking about how some guys are pigs, and, frankly, i really never thought it was really relevant, until this book was mandatory to read. Since this book came out, i have always wanted to read it, but never got the time to. When i started reading Speak in class, everyone said they hated it (i am so sorry. I guess they dont like novels, or dont understand, but i loved it!!!!) I felt like i was the only one who really loved it.
    You demonstrated an understanding in teenagers, so surprising, coming from an adult, because (as you know), most teens find adults stupid or something. I wanted to thank you for writing Speak. I say this because, honestly, people dont know how to imagine to have such a thing happen to you, and you did an amazing job with it. The one thing i didnt like though, is the fact that girls being raped actually happens, and it seems no one really cares (especially in my english class). It scares me b/c i am a freshman, and Melinda was a freshmen.
    Heres what i would like for you to email me back on: where did your inspiration come from? I read the interveiw in the back of the book, but how do you get these things on paper. I love to write. Poems, short stories and journals. But, every time I try to take a dream and put it on paper, it never seems right. How do you do it? Please email me back at musicluvr14@comcast.net.
    KEEP WRITING, i am waiting for another wonderful book!

    > A Laurie Halse Anderson Fan <

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