Jan Fields (cute_n_cranky) wrote,
Jan Fields

Back from NESCBWI

My trip to NESCBWI was brief this year as I really couldn't spare much more than the time for my workshops on Sunday. Still, I got to hear some fantastic stuff even so. I heard an amazing speech from Jo Knowles -- she's just always so moving to hear. Then I enjoyed the panel on Diversity because it's a subject I'm really interested in right now. Each person on the panel had a different point of view into the topic, which is terrific for a panel on diversity.

Then Sunday, Chris Cheng was super and not just because I love hearing an Australian accent. My workshop audiences were attentive and so encouraging and complimentary. Anyone who works in publishing but not in kidlit is missing out on some of the kindest people. Then I enjoyed Marvin Terban's lunch talk. He's funny and I'm always interested in learning more about humor in writing since that's so important to my own writing. Then he surprised me HUGELY by quoting from MY piece on humor -- and he actually agreed with me. I mean, obviously I think I'm right, but I'm always chuffed when someone else things so too!

So, what did I walk away with?
I write fairly light stuff, but Jo Knowles' talk about saying what's true made me aware again of how important that is. I think we can tell the truth in lots of different ways and my way is much lighter, but I think it takes all of us together to meet the needs of all readers. And whether light or serious -- we really should stop with our books until their true.

Also, as Chris Cheng talked about all the fantastic things that have come his way just because he was willing to say "Yes" to them, I really connected with that. My own publishing path has had many side roads that took me valuable places, all because I was willing to take a risk and say, "Yes."

The diversity panel reminded me again that no matter what you have to say, no matter how well you research it (or are part of the culture), someone, somewhere will tell you that you got it "wrong." Or that you're telling the story the wrong way. The key is to listen to what that person has to say. Consider it seriously and give it respect -- but I think we still have to write what We individually write. This isn't a collective business. My character's truth may not be the exact same as someone else's. As writer's we do our best and never stop growing and listening, but we do so knowing -- honestly -- you can't please everyone all the time.

And Marvin Terban made me laugh and brought me joy. What more could I want from a speech? Plus, I got to meet him afterwards and he's a gracious and charming guy. How splendid is that?

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