I've been able to attend several different writing groups this week and it has been a blast. First was the North Texas SCBWI convention in Addison, Texas and I am so glad I was able to attend this year. Agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton from Andrea Brown Agency, Editor, Brett Duquette from Sterling Publishing, Editor Callie Metler-Smith from Clear Fork Media, and Agent Melissa Edwards from Stonesong were the main speakers. I also heard Kayla Olsen speak, author of Sandcastle Empire. She shared her long journey to publication which was very interesting and heartfelt.
The one speaker that especially stood out for me was Brett Duquette. He emphasized the enjoyment of the writing process. He shared about his mom who wrote with 5 friends every week for years because she loved writing, not with any real intention of ever being published. He also had this great advice for rewriting. He suggested going though and editing one thing at a time. For instance, the first go through might be just looking at the verbs and making sure they are all strong. The next time through might be for the purpose of looking at character development. Next time? Maybe look at sentence structure and patterns.
I also attended a local writing group this week at the library. The group meets once a month and each person's writing is for a different genre. At first, I thought it might not be that beneficial because the others were not writing for children. I loved the diversity, though, and learned from the experience. They meet once a month and I'm hoping to make it again next month.
Another group focusing a lot on writing is a group called WILD, Women in Leadership Development. They meet once a week at my church for six weeks and it has been amazing. It also involves standing and speaking. Ugh! I love speaking to children, but it is definitely a challenge for me to do that with adults. They are wonderful "cheer you on " people so that does make it a little easier.
Attending these groups, hearing speakers, and meeting other writers and illustrators has always helped with honing my craft but this week it has done more. It has forced me to dig deep and find my purpose for writing and reassessing my goals. I feel like I've discovered the heart of my writing and illustration buried under a lot of stuff. I don't write or paint to be published. I write and illustrate to touch people, especially children. It is about the people. At this point, I have not been published by a large company and maybe I never will. I have reached children through the books I've written and illustrated and though it is not huge numbers, each child is significant, each one valuable and precious. Each one is worthy of doing the very best work that I can. Inspiring, teaching, touching the heart is my goal. We are only on this earth for a little while. I want to make sure I am focused on the real deal.