Inspiration from the SCBWI Summer Spectacular

Last weekend, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators hosted their annual summer conference virtually. They dubbed it the Summer Spectacular and it earned that moniker. Normally three hundred people attend in person. This year, five thousand people from all around the world listened to the best and most generous thinkers in children’s literature. Here are a few inspirational quotes from the five-day conference.

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the most important things in the world.”
Sir Phillip Pullman

“The storyteller’s responsibility is to tell the story as well as you possibly can.”
Sir Phillip Pullman

“When you write for kids, you have to be on their side.”
Judy Blume

“Write what is inside you. Throw knowledge away.”
Judy Blume

“Surround yourself with yes people who support you because writers are tender with self doubt.”
Kwame Alexander

“The ability to draw matters less than your understanding of design.”
LeUyen Pham

“Beautiful sentences have to have an emotional life. The writer’s heart must connect with the reader’s heart.”
Jill Santopolo

“It’s important to know your unique voice and what matters and is important to you. That’s the connection between you and the reader.”
Julie Strauss-Gabel

“I have no idea what the world will look like in 2023 but I do know publishing will adapt.”
Neal Porter

“Seek your truth; not the market. Reveal your truth on the page. It will stay with you through the vicissitudes of the business.”
Namrata Tripathi

“Take more chances.”
Stacey Barney

“If you write outside your culture, criticism isn’t canceling. Criticism is part of being an artist. You have to be mature and know the waters you are swimming in.”
Laurie Halse Anderson

“Build on every tiny success. How you connect with others matters. Your career is your relationships with writers, teachers, librarians and readers.”
Meg Medina

“The desire line is vital. It is the driving force of human nature and it creates a steady momentum to drive the story forward. Knowing your character’s desire makes for great suspense when conflicts are introduced.”
Linda Camacho

“Everyone is the hero of their own story. From the protagonist to the antagonist.”
Brooks Sherman

“I try to write responsibly and not hurt people.”
Jacqueline Woodson

“When I was writing BROWN GIRL DREAMING, I didn’t know what I was trying to say. But I kept trying to figure it out. That’s what editors do. We have many worlds, many stories in us. Editors help us figure out what those many stories in us.”
Jacqueline Woodson

“The most important elements in writing picture books are: Compression, Lyricism, Arc and Visuality.”
Jane Yolen

“Earning your ending means finishing the arc of your story. The beginning and the ending must shake hands.”
Jane Yolen

Writing in the hard times: “Untie the anxiety and tap into creativity. Pick out what is bothering you and turn it into beauty to remind you of the good things during this time.”
Jane Yolen

“I hope that my legacy is: I never compromised my work; I always said yes I can and I was a good sharer.”
Jane Yolen

“Anyone can write. But a real writer is someone who can rewrite and fill out the story.”
Caitlyn Dlouhy

“You don’t have to do all the work for the reader. Leave room for them to figure stuff out. That’s their part in the book.”
Jason Reynolds

“Separate yourself from your work. Don’t let perfection haunt your work.”
Nic Stone

“Writing is hard because that’s what makes books great. Lean into the difficulty.”
Jason Reynolds

“I know it’s a picture book when the pictures are telling a different story from the written story.”
Grace Lin

“If you love it, stay with it. It will pay off.”
Alvina Ling

The agents’ panel answered this question: What prompts you to work with an author?

  • “An author who is willing to collaborate.” Regina Brooks
  • “Trust.” Linda Camacho
  • “Chemistry, communication style, no fear of connection and collaboration.” Rosemary Stimola
  • “Someone who knows the heart of the story and is willing to go to the mats for it.” Brooks Sherman

SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver closed out the conference with this quote:

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say is, “I love the world.’”
E.B. White

Well done, Lin Oliver and the SCBWI team. It was perfect.