This month I'm dishing out inspiration.
On Saturday and Sunday I was privileged to be at the SCBWI winter conference.Yes, it was February in New York and the weather was atrocious. But inside the hotel things were warm, people mingled, and Kwame Alexander gave a speech entitled Dancing Naked On The Floor - How To Say Yes To The Writerly Life.
In case you don't know, Kwame Alexander just won the Newberry Medal for his novel in verse, The Crossover. And I do mean just won, the award was announced the Monday before his Sunday speech.The SCBWI committee invited him to speak at this conference long ago, and therefore we were the privileged group who saw him make his first speech post award. He mounted the podium in a new, berry-colored suit. His Newberry suit, he proudly announced.
He kept the audience captivated with details of his agonizing wait for the 6 am call the committee made to the winner, unable to sleep, barely able to think. He turned on TV shows he couldn't remember, eventually giving up and going to bed at seven, certain he'd lost. Just as his wife was comforting him on the loss, the phone rang.
He'd forgotten all about the time zone difference!
When he spoke he was simply awesome, inspiring, riveting...he is a poet after all. He started out writing love poems. He recited a few he used to woo his wife and that generated the kind of feelings 50 Shades only wishes it could. (She is one lucky woman.)
I could have listened to Kwame all night even though the words were meant for someone else. For those of us who write romance, consider creating a silver-tongued poetic hero. I'll be standing in line for the release of that book. Yes, I like sports figures, six pack abs and bottomless wallets. But give us a truly heartfelt poem or ballad... But for me, move over, Mr. Grey. I want a man with a Golden Voice who can woo me with the beauty of his words.
Kwame shared his philosophy of always saying "YES" to opportunity.
- YES when offered a job reading poetry to kids in an alternative school (talk about the blackboard jungle)
- YES to reciting poetry to a church congregation. The minister didn't know Kwame specialized in love poems. he was appalled, the church women demanded more.
- Most of all, he said YES when asked to write for children.
Audience members spent the time tweeting his pearls of wisdom, sending the hashtag #KWAMERULES viral. His philosophy about saying YES, and the need for a community of people around you who will tell you the truth, even (maybe especially) when you don't want to hear it.
There were other speakers during the weekend. We had Q/A sessions with panels of Publishers, and
Even though I'm not a picture book writer or illustrator, I enjoyed the presentation by Herve Tullet on his joy at writing for young children. We ended the conference with a surprise cheer-up talk by Henry Winkler, actor, director and children's book author reminding us why we write and hope to inspire readers.
My favorite quote from the weekend conference: This writing life is not just about sitting in your room with your pencil & paper. It's about going out in the world. #kwamerules
I would love to hear any comments or words of wisdom that have helped you in any endeavor. Leave a comment, share with the world.