|First SCBWI Social|
I first came across SCBWI-BI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) in 2006 when I attended their conference which is held at my university. I had just finished my MA in Writing for Children and just embarking on my PhD. There were some fascinating speakers but I also found it quite daunting and overwhelming at that time. I sat on the periphery for several years, watching from the sidelines. Once my PhD was nearly finished I started to get more involved. They have their own Facebook page, which is a wonderful thing for networking and making friends. The members are all so friendly and supportive. And the more involved I get the more I realise how important the organisation is. I suppose it comes from all being in the same boat and understanding the pressures.
The aim of SCBWI-BI (some call it Scoobies) is to support published and, importantly, unpublished writers and illustrators. They hold many events during the year including the professional series held in London, the north and the north east. These can be events where you meet publishers, talk to other authors or have a specialised session like one on marketing. Who knows, maybe I will be able to get Winchester to start its own professional series on day..... ;-) There is even an Agents party, where you can schmooze and use your one line pitch.
Also, there is their annual conference which, as I previously mentioned, is held at Winchester University and always well worth attending. I went again last year and it was so much larger than the conference I attended in 2006. This year I am holding the first conference Scrawl Crawl on the Friday. This is where we will be visiting various places within Winchester to find inspiration and write and/or draw. I will put up a link to the conference when it is ready. They also hold an annual retreat. This is something I haven't managed to attend yet but from the feedback and photos it looks amazing and well worth attending.
I suppose what this post is really about is finding support networks when you write. The members of SCBWI have been fantastic. They celebrate everyone's successes and give a great deal of support to those who are having a difficult time. They become like a family. I am lucky many of them have become very good friends too that go way beyond the writing. But that's what you need as a writer is to surround yourself with people who understand what it is like to write/illustrate. How lonely it can be and how pressurised it can become once you have been published. People who understand and won't take offence if you need to be left alone because you are in the middle of a writing session. As the BBC would say, 'there are other similar organisations' - one that comes to mind is Lapidus, another one that is well worth looking at particularly if you are interested in creative writing and well being.
Finally, I would like to thank all my SCBWIs friends who have been such great friends and have helped me get to where I am. And thank you to those who attended Thursday's event. I look forward to many more.
Mary Chapin Carpenter's 'Chasing What's Already Gone.'