August 5th, 2007

head shot

SCBWI Sunday

So, John Green not only writes books that win the presitigious-beyond-measure Printz award, but he also gives speeches that are touching and funny, and he's cute to boot. I'd say that it's not fair except I hate to complain when we're all enjoying him so dang much. Y'know?

This morning he talked about freeing himself  "from the shackles of the facts" in order to write something emotionally and intellectually true. I really, really like discerning between facts and truth, and I know from countless discussions with writing students that just because "it really happened" doesn't mean it really works.

He also said that "great books don't happen by accident."

"I don't think literature just comes to you," said Green. "I think its something you work very hard on."

I like that, too.

Later, I went to hear Mary Hershey talk about writing better humor. It was thicker and better than I expected because she wanted us to dig into our childhoods and obsessions and stuff. This was no banana-peel-on-floor-Tom-trickery. Hershey was talking about the real deal. 

"The art of humor is in the way that you look at the world," she said.

And then a pretty good chunk of the day was devoted to the Golden Kite Awards and luncheon. Those are the book awards given by SCBWI members to books by SCBWI members. Kind of Golden Globey. Tony Abbott, author of Firegirl, gave a particularly thoughtful and funny acceptance speech. Plus, the dessert was chocolately.

And then this afternoon, Linda Sue Park and her editor Dinah Stevenson did a little tag-team talk on the author/editor relationship. Here are my favorite bits:

Linda Sue Park said, "Most people who want to be published writers do not read enough." And she asked the audience to read 1,000 picture books before writing their own. I think she should win some sort of award for that. Or get a bronze book on the sidewalk in front of New York Public Library. Or something like that.

And then Dinah Stevenson said, "Focus your energy on your craft." 
I mean, it sounds so simple but don't we all get wrapped up in wanting to be published, rich and famous when really we should be reading and crafting and revising and crafting and reading and revising? 

So now I think it's my responsibility to crawl into these very fine sheets at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza and read one of the many new books I've picked up in the last coupla days. Don't you?