Saturday, 30 June 2012

The importance of SCBWIs

First SCBWI Social
On Thursday I held the inaugaural Winchester SCBWI Social meeting and it was a refreshing reminder of how important this organisation is to me. We met at a local pub and had a large jug of Pimms to celebrate - it was delicious! The best part was to be able to sit and discuss your own writing and that of others with people who understood the issues of writing/illustrating for children and the stress of the publishing machine. There was never an awkward silence as you tried to think of something to say and two hours went very rapidly. I will be organising another one in August. If you are interested leave a message in the comments below.

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The aim of SCBWI-BI (some call it Scoobies) is to support published and, importantly, unpublished writers and illustrators.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.'


  1. Yep - Scooby's full of great people - like YOU.

  2. Thank you Ness, warm, knowledgable, reliable, enthusiastic, lovely scbwi friend x

  3. *Blush* Thank you Kathy! You were one of the ones who encouraged me to stop being on the periphery.

  4. Love this Ness and it is so true! Scoobie is the best thing I ever joined.

    I always wanted to write for children but as I left Uni, entered teaching and made my first tentative steps to writing there was no support there. It did not take much to knock my confidence and give up and be drawn into the world of lesson plans and continual assessment.

    Ten years vanished and eventually something snapped and I began to write again.THIS time however there was SCBWI-BI, and since joining I have not looked back. My writing is developing well, my confidence is growing and I have made the BEST friends who I know won't let me give up again. I only wish it had been there the first time around.

  5. I agree. It is so good to meet up with like-minded writers and get to talk to them about your writing and what is going on out there. It is great to be able to share your successes and failures with SCBWIs and know that they have probably gone through the same process as you.

  6. I am glad it is not just me that has had such an amazing experience. And I even forgot about the critique groups- dammit.

  7. SCBWI is indeed very special and brings many lovely and wonderful friends to travel with us in the mad, lonely, funny and crazy journey that is writing!