Weekend on the Water 2011

Weekend On The Water

I recently returned from a fabulous writers’ retreat at one of the most beautiful places in North America.
Where: Alderbrook Resort in Union, Washington at the southern shore of the Hood Canal.
Who: Given by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators of Western Washington for fifty writers and illustrators.
The speakers were (and I quote from the website ):
“Arthur Levine, author, publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books, and a vice-president at Scholastic Inc., and Newbery Medal award-winning author Linda Sue Park.”

The weekend has been a life-changing experience for me.  Attending was  a selected group of dedicated and excited writers and illustrators. The atmosphere was friendly, positive and supportive. Jolie Stekly, Joni Sensel and Laurie Thompson and the rest of the staff from the SCBWI-WWA orchestrated everything perfectly.

And the speakers were wonderful.  Backing off the superlatives for a minute, Arthur really helped me understand the strengths and the weaknesses of the beginning of my manuscript.  Each of us sent him the first five pages of our story, plus a one-page synopsis.  He made a point of reading them and writing notes before he arrived. (Which was a feat considering the blackout he and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic had just been through.)  He said many kind things about the piece which I very much appreciated.  But even more important he gave me two ideas, I had considered but that my vanity had prevented me from embracing. Even then, I hesitated. What drove his points home, however, was the clever meeting format he chose. I got to listen to his critiques of twenty-four of my peers’ work, and I agreed with all of hs comments.  How could I possibly consider that his about mine was the only one that was wrong?

Linda Sue Park gave us hours of tips on the craft of writing. She is not just a Newberry Award winning author, but a true artist.  Without getting into the specifics, she uses many of the techniques that other artists use to explore and sharpen her pieces ways that are unique to each of them. Most importantly she taught us to challenge ourselves to write more originally.

Thanks to everyone.  I look forward to seeing the alumni from the conference at upcoming Puget Sound SCBWI events.

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