by Marcy Pusey
In March of 2013, many of us had the joyful privilege of attending the first SCBWI Europolitan conference in Paris. I had already discovered how incredible the writers and illustrators of the Germany / Austria Region are. I was about to discover how that incredible-ness spread beyond the reaches of my sweet region.
What I didn’t realize, was that until this conference, the regions had remained largely inclusive. We just didn’t really know how to connect with the “others” over there across the border. I mean, who KNOWS what those French region people are up to?! Or can you imagine the Swiss? Or Belgian? The Paris Europolitan conference broke down those barriers… and I believe I can say for all of us, revealed what awesome resources, friendships, and possibility lay just around the corner from us. I even left with a new critique group, spread out over three countries.
This past October 25, many of us met up again for the Chart Your Course to Success Workshop, hosted by the SCBWI Swiss Region, in the breath-taking Lausanne. What does this have to do with the Europolitan conference?
I believe one piece of the success of this event lay in the foundations of March 2013. The other pieces were, of course, Elisabeth Norton, the SCBWI Switzerland RA, and the two amazing guest speakers, Polly Nolan, literary agent with Greenhouse Literary Agency and Jude Evans, Publisher of Little Tiger Press. And the piece not least of all, was the open invitation to members of other SCBWI regions.
Because Europol-Paris taught us that the authors and illustrators in the other regions aren’t so scary :) Actually, they’re kind of awesome. I know. I’ve attended a writer’s retreat with the Belgium region and I can’t WAIT for the next one. And you know, SCBWI Germany/Austria puts on some pretty darn great events too.
I personally made a couple new friends, none of whom are members of the Germany / Austria region. (I would have been just as happy to make a new friend in our region.. but there wasn’t anyone there from our region who I didn’t know yet :).
Elisabeth put together a great workshop, with a track for picture book writers and illustrators and a track for middle grade and young adult writers. Then Ms. Evans and Ms. Nolan generously offered their entire day to us. (They even ate lunch with us. I mean, you want to get to know someone? Let them watch you eat. Or you watch them eat.) They answered questions, offered critiques after the workshop, and shared their plethora of knowledge. They were fabulous. The whole thing was fabulous.
One thing that struck me (and made me even more glad that I went) is that Little Tiger Press is currently closed to submissions, because they get so many it’s overwhelming. Now they are focussing their energies on workshops and conferences… hoping to find the story they’re looking for among the people proving their dedication to the industry… by paying the money, showing up, and never giving up on learning.
That’s us, folks! We are dedicated, aren’t we? And we spur each other on.
I have had a ROUGH and wild year, beginning with last June. All the turbulence of life and parenting and traveling and fund raising left me weary, uninspired, and out of touch with my writing for a few months. This workshop kicked me back into gear. The new friends, the “old” friends, the reminders about why we care so much about children and literature… it was what I needed to get going again.
And really, isn’t it staying connected to our writer / illustrator selves sometimes what keeps us sane through the rough waters of life? I know as soon as I start writing again… I start breathing again.
Well guess what? You missed the Chart Your Course to Success workshop in Switzerland? And now you’re thinking, “Ugh, I should have gone!”
I have good news!
The NEXT Europolitan Conference is coming up.... in Amsterdam! Mark your calendar now for April 3 - April 5, 2015. You can check the lineup here… It looks amazing. And have I mentioned how cool the SCBWI Netherlands Region is? I’m not surprised anymore when I join another region and find out how super lovely they all are too.
Don’t want to miss anymore events? Join the Facebook pages of our neighboring regions to keep up-to-date an events they are hosting.
And of course, we often post events on our own Facebook page, SCBWI Germany / Austria.
And if that isn’t enough, they’ve gone ahead and made a page for Europe too, SCBWI Europolitan Happenings
Hope to see you soon!