Nothing like an inspiring panel of legends to get your creative juices flowing. Or at least, make you believe that they were once sitting where you are in the trenches. And that it's hard work, but worth it in the end.
On Saturday, I attended Overcoming Challenges, an NESCBWI and PEN New England jointly sponsored event at the Danforth Museum in Framingham, Massachusetts. The esteemed panelists included Newbery Award Winners Lois Lowry (THE GIVER) and Kathryn Lasky (GUARDIANS OF GA'HOOLE). AND, if that's not exciting enough, Jacqueline Davies (THE LEMONADE WAR) and Illustrator Bill Thomson (CHALK) also spoke--Yes! Really!
Each panelist talked about overcoming challenges to pursue their careers, make a living, and write for children. They also each talked about a specific challenge in a current project. It was fantastic. Lois was wise and inspiring. Kathryn was funny and real. Bill told several emotional stories that put things in perspective. And Jackie was realistic and amazing.
And get this: None of them tweet. None of them have Facebook pages. None of them are on Goodreads. Except for Jackie, none of them have literary agents. The only social networking each of them regularly uses, are websites and blogs.
Of course, both Kathryn and Lois started their careers before the days of internet and computer access. So times have changed since their beginnings. And Jackie talked about having quit all her listservs when she realized they sucked her creative juices.
The most important thing that I took away from the panel--aside from just taking the work seriously and not as hobby (but I already had that)--is when the panel was asked how/when they know when their work in progress is "done".
(Paraphrased) The work is done, when it's done--when your deadline hits or when you can't do anything else. Just let it go.
Since I'm working on a big revision right now, this was timely. And very profound, as far as I'm concerned.
So thank you to Jackie, Lois, Kathryn, and Bill.
And to Melissa Stewart for putting it all together.