Last Saturday I was in Toronto to attend a seminar called Get Published! It was a fundraiser for the Canadian Children's Book Centre. I always welcome these opportunities to learn from more experienced writers and to network with like-minded people. The writers in the audience at these events are at various stages in their careers. But a writer is always honing her craft.
On Saturday we heard Barbara Greenwood's advice to go ahead and write whatever we want to write. If we are passionate about a subject, that's a good enough excuse to write about it. Barbara was once told that kids don't want to read historical fiction. Let the record show that she proved that naysayer wrong.
Jo Ellen Bogart has written just about everything, and she showed us some of her early successes. Jo Ellen calls herself a "short" writer. She tries to get her ideas across in as few well-chosen words as possible. I call that "tight" writing, something I'm trying to practise in my own writing.
Ruth Ohi, illustrator and author, was lively and interesting, making us laugh with her family stories and her clever drawings, by way of a Power Point presentation. (Note to self: get busy on that Power Point presentation!)
I found it helpful to hear the panel of representatives from three of the big Canadian publishers. To become a published writer a person needs luck as well as talent. Her manuscript has to land on the right editor's desk at just the right time. Then, if an editor is passionate about the submission, that editor has to pitch it to several other departments within the company, including the sales and marketing people and the finance department. It is a lengthy process.
I always come away from these events fired up and ready to get on with the writing. I would advise all aspiring writers to take advantage of workshops and writing courses whenever they can. There are always ways to improve. We never stop learning.