I am grateful for many things and many people, but when this month’s theme was announced, I knew I had to write about the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
I first heard about SCBWI after I had published a few nonfiction books for children. A friend invited me to her critique group, and they all spoke so highly of the organization that I joined within days, and soon went to my first regional conference. There I met an editor who expressed interest in a fiction manuscript I had barely started but which that same critique group had found intriguing. When I finished the manuscript, I sent it to her and got my first fiction sale.
I could go on and on about the ways SCBWI has helped me professionally, but the real benefit has been the way it has introduced me to the people that I now number as among the most important in my life, for the way they support me, challenge me, teach me, point out to me (sometimes gently, sometimes not) when I’m setting the bar too low for myself, expand my horizons, and provide a reality check when I take either praise or criticism too seriously.
This is why, despite the fact that I have a demanding day job (for five more months!) and a busy writing-and-promoting life, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy volunteering with SCBWI, first as a Regional Advisor and now as Regional Advisor Coordinator for the U.S. I’ve gotten way more out of it than I’ve contributed. I think most members would say the same.