The first major children’s book writing conference I attended was the SCBWI national conference in California. I think it might have been 2002, so it’s been awhile and the details are a bit murky. But I remember that one of the keynote speakers told a funny story. It was something along the lines of having to explain to her father-in-law what the conference was all about—as a podiatrist, he didn’t understand what a bunch of kidlit writers would find to talk about when trapped together in a hotel for several days in a row. Wouldn’t it be incredibly boring? So she finally asked him what HE would talk about if he went to a podiatrist conference, and it clicked for him—at HIS conference, it would be all-feet, all the time, but he’d love it—because that was his passion!
We had several “Leap Year Cheer” sessions this past week—a special deal we offered to prior clients—and while it was a busy week with lots of talk about children’s book writing, I never tired of hearing updates from these writers, some of whom I’ve known for several years now. Hearing their reports of the steps forward they’ve made in their writing careers energized me, and it was a great reminder of something we often repeat: building your writing community can be a key part of your writing success. Family and friends can be super supportive, but they often don’t understand the challenges and the triumphs in the way that another writer can. Just as I wouldn’t understand the challenges and triumphs of treating foot problems!
I had to pull back from my writing community a bit over the past couple of years because of a family health crisis, but I’ve decided that things are going to be different this year. I’ve already committed to a writing retreat, and I’m thinking about other ways to reconnect. What about you? Just put your best foot forward, and start moving down the path towards building your writing community!