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READ WRITE INSPIRE. Welcome to my Words, a place devoted to making Reading and Writing for children more Inspired.


Monday, 12 September 2011

My Apprenticeship

As they roll up the banners for another year, after a month during which nearly every Children's Literary Festival and Writing Festival took place, as the buzz within and around me slowly dissipates into the stratosphere, I reflect on what was another sublime cluster of highs in My Writer's Story. I prefer story to journey because I have always felt life, while an incredible trip at times, is broken into equally as incredible chapters.

The latest chapter featured my attendance at this year's CYA Conference for Children and Young Adult Writers and Illustrators. The one day, all you can fit in conference for Alligators (grown up writers) was a phenomenal program of success stories, informative sessions, hands on workshops and master classes. Perhaps the highlight of the day for many an aspiring writer or illustrator was the opportunity to pitch their manuscripts and artwork face to face with industry representatives from such  renowned publishing houses as Walker Books, Harper Collins, Random House, Hootenanny Books and literary agents including Jacinta di Mase.

Fellow emerging writers, Karen Tyrrel, Picture Book 3rd place winner, Renee Taprell & Charmaine Clancy
I will not recount each sterling bit of advice I was exposed to. It would take until the next conference to list it all. But here are some of the pearls I managed to sneak away with:

Tristan Bancks  ~ Anyone can make a Book Trailer. Keep it pithy, pacey and polished.

Aleesah Darlison ~ On creating a Picture Book, Story = Words + Art. Keep it real, think carefully about your characters, don't make life easy for them and Read and Write with your target audience in mind.

Julie Fison ~ On writing engaging Adventure Books, write what you know, who you are, what matters to you. And to exercise patience. Write, wait, write, wait, polish, polish, polish. Persist and market yourself.

Sue Whiting ~ Write what makes your heart sing. Be true to yourself, don't be a faker. Versatility may be a marketing nightmare in the publishing world but is not always a negative. Make sure the next book you write is better than the last...

Michael Gerard Bauer getting serious
about humour
Karen Guinn Robertson ~ You don't need to be a techno whizz kid to publish your work on E Books and create fantastic Book Apps to enjoy the all important freedom and power of Global Marketing.

Michael Gerard Bauer ~ Reminded us that if you can laugh at something bigger, and more overwhelming than you, then it has not and can not, overcome you. Humour is serious business in writing and comedy is a funny way of being serious.

Amanda Ashby ~ Illustrated that TV is not just a necessary evil but can be a Writer's best friend. (had to pop out for my pitching session but completely captivated by Amanda's passion and enthusiasm on this subject.)

What did I gain from the Conference?
The crystal clear realisation that I am proud of what I do, the industry I have ingratiated myself into, the people I know, the skills I have, the knowledge I continue to amass, and the reasons I persist. It is an Apprenticeship of sorts. I'm continually learning my trade, improving on my craft, expanding my potential. The CYA Conference serves to cement these affirmations and provide invaluable information, feedback and contacts.


To be surrounded by such an intoxicating sea of aspiring and inspiring writers, illustrators and industry personnel, all of whom continually over awe me with their genuine warmth, skills and interest, only fuels my passion to push on.

Where am I now?
Meeting some of the first time delegates, I was reminded of myself less than a year ago. Then, I was almost too shy, too embarrassed, too modest, too ill equipped to blurt on about my writing apprenticeship. Now, I confidently answer the question, 'So, what do you do?' with 'I'm a children's author.'
It says so on my card.

I'm no longer a first year Apprentice. There's still plenty to learn, to fine tune. There are still plenty of chapters to journey through. Personally I can't wait.