Wednesday, July 29, 2020

SCBWI Summer Spectacular: Let This "BE THE DAY YOU BEGIN" To Write

We've been on shutdown and the days seem bleak. But we still have to write, to be creative, to find inspiration. So what do we do? How do you rejuvenate and get inspired again? Simple. You seek out other creatives, other writers, other illustrators. You listen to the pros whose been writing, revising, editing, and drafting new stories. You learn what makes them write. You learn what motivates them to get up day-in and day-out and create stories for teeny-tiny-toddlers through young adults. You go to their gathering spot. This year, that's online at the SCBWI Summer Spectacular Conference.

I'm coming to this SCBWI Summer Spectacular Conference ready to get "Nicced!" - Stone that is. I'm ready! I'm ready! I'm ready! If you are a no-show at this years conference, this SCBWI Summer Spectacular, then you are truly the ODD ONE OUT as NIC STONE would write. This year's conference hit the JACKPOT. It is inexpensive (cheap for the picture book writers), You save money on travel, hotel, and fancy dining. Nic might be writing DEAR MARTIN, but I'm writing "Dear SCBWI, it's about time you make this conference affordable...Sincerely, A-Writer-On-A-Budget." 

I have been to SCBWI conferences in New York, LA, and Springfield. None of them I have been excited about as much as this one. One, I don't like crowds and people hovering over me. I don't talk to folks much. It is so much going on and the fear of missing out (FOMO) forces me to try and make every session which can be tiring and overwhelming. This is what the doctor order. I get to watch from home, with my pen, paper, and peanuts honey roasted. And with Covid-19 craziness and restrictions, I won't have to wear a mask! But, if you go out, listen the WIMPY KID and mask-up! Isn't that right JEFF KINNEY?

Mask? Did someone call LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON? You know, Laurie wrote about MASKS before it became a fashion statement and staple in 2020. She wrote about FEVER, 1793 which has returned, took up a pseudonym, and has unleashed it's evil on mankind as Covid-19. There's an idea for you Laurie. I gave you the title to your sequel.  (So go ahead, start writing!) Normally, if you are sick, you would have to miss this conference. But it is online and you can attend no matter if you are sick or well. Zoom allows you to stay six feet apart. So if you have Covid, Flu-like symptoms, or TURKEY POX, have no fear. You are welcome here at the SCBWI Summer Spectacular. Wear your favorite pajamas, nice top, and a hat.

Hat? Did someone lose a hat? JON KLASSEN? I hope you wear that hat you spent all that time harping about. You know the one where he kept saying, "I WANT MY HAT BACK." Then he was like, "THIS IS NOT MY HAT." Next you gave the hat away to turtles after all that. I hope he won't want it back. Turtles? He's going to have to wait forever if he expects them to return it. Maybe he can knit a sweater with some extra yarn he borrowed from Mac Barnett while he waits. 

This SCBWI Summer Spectacular will be so epic, MAC BARNETT will need some EXTRA YARN to stitch together this commemoration of awesomeness. He's going to have to create another THE TERRIBLE TWO series. This time, naming it, THE TERRIBLE TWO-ZERO-TWO-ZERO! That's 2020 for those who needs a little extra time to process. 

I'm going to be like Merci Suarez right now and "change gears." Newbery award-winning author Meg Medina of MERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEAR will be making an appearance. Yes, Meg is bringing her creative story telling of writing stories for Latinx children and writing about families and life changes. I am a huge supporters of good storytelling. But I love authenticity in storytelling. We always hear, "Write what you know!" But more times than most, authors writing stories about marginalized communities do not have stakes invested in those communities. So Meg, do you, Boo! I am here for it. I am here for Merci! And I am here for all the storytellers telling their own stories. #OwnVoices


  So MARLA FRAZEE asked me who was I most excited to see. Of course, she already knew the answer to that. But she wanted me to say it out loud. So I will reveal that person last. However, I am excited to see so many including the legend that is JUDY BLUME. Yes! Calling the Queen of storytelling to the stage. I'm handing her a bouquet while she is here on Earth. I'm singing her praises. One of my favorite books of all time is ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET. Apparently, it is 2020 fave as well because it too have been heralding the heaven's resident saying, "Are you there, God? It's me 2020!" I'm ringing the heavens too Margaret and 2020. 


 Jason Reynolds have the "write" idea and the right idea. It's a SUNNY day FOR EVERY ONE coming to this conference. SCBWI is about finding your people, your creative sidekick. Folks who won't GHOST you. We can do it. We can band together and learn together. Jason stepped out on faith and found his true calling - telling stories and empowering
others to do the same. Jason is only AS BRAVE AS YOU. Continue  to LOOK BOTH WAYS and write! Write! Write! 

In conclusion, there are no WIMPY KID(s) here. I don't know who in the back needs to hear this. But I tell you what, if you write your name, a poem, a short story, a book, then you are a writer. Keep writing in those diaries. One day, you may be the next JEFF KINNEY, selling your diaries for a lot of money. Or you can be JANE YOLEN waiting on an OWL MOON to write and sell a book. Jane writes about DINOSAURS GOING TO SCHOOL. I have an idea for you Jane. Next book, HOW DO WRITERS GO TO SCBWI SUMMER SPECTACULAR? Make sure it includes - pajama bottoms, nice shirt, wine glass, bottles of tequila, gin, vodka, and water. And you must, must, must include Zoom. Make sure it is poetic and lyrical. Do you! So go ahead and start writing. 

Some of us, this is our first conference. JACQUELINE WOODSON lives in ANOTHER BROOKLYN; and we too are living in another world. A world on lockdown and shutdown. A world threatened by a virus and housed in a pandemic. But Jackie wants the best from us. She wants us to show EACH KINDNESS to others.  Let this SCBWI Summer Spectacular be THE DAY YOU BEGIN to write. Because soon you will all get to THE OTHER SIDE, full of hope, faith, and love.

Bingham writes picture books and will be a debut author in the Fall of 2021. Her picture book, SOUL FOOD SUNDAY, is about a boy coming of age and learning to cook soul food; and will be published by AbramsKids. You can find Bingham on Twitter at @ArmyVet5.

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