By Claudia Pearson
Part two in the SB Volunteers series
Paula Puckett really knows what she’s talking about when she says Southern Breeze is Volunteer Powered, and some of our most important volunteers work at the local level! Why are they so important? One of the biggest benefits SCBWI Southern Breeze offers to both members and non-members is the opportunity to get together with like-minded people. But many of our members can’t make it to the big conferences, even though it is a ton of fun to attend with friends, and others who have never heard about SCBWI often learn about us at local events, those strange things called ‘schmoozes” held by those lovely creatures, Local Liaisons.
The world of children’s books can be full of isolation, frustration and rejection. Yes, we are all a little weird, or we wouldn’t be writers and illustrators, now would we? We need to embrace our weirdness! Contact with others who are just as passionate as we are about creating great books for young readers is often what keeps us grinding away.
But how do you find people who understand what you mean when you tell them that you can’t get any writing done because a character has stopped talking to you? My husband just laughs. Or if we try to tell them that even though our work gets rejected , it’s a “good” rejection because the editor or agent sent a personal letter telling us they don’t want our work?
“Seriously?” my husband asks. After fifteen years, I think he’s beginning to understand.
We need to support one another, to gather together and share both the frustrations and the little triumphs. To reach out to people who are going it alone and to those who have never heard of SCBWI before. But how does that happen?
That's where the schmooze comes in. In some areas members have already stepped up to become “Local Liaisons” – volunteers who organize gatherings and programs for writers and illustrators living not far from one another. In others no one has volunteered for this activity yet – you could be the one!
Why on earth would you do that, you ask? Because it is fun! And it can help you make contacts with others in your area who might be interested in forming a face to face critique group.
Local Liaisons also have the opportunity to interact with our regional leadership and with talented and experienced regional PAL members. Sometimes they get to work with a librarian or a bookstore owner, and what children’s book creator doesn’t want to get to know their librarians and local bookstore better? They may also have an opportunity to work with publishing professionals, agents and editors from outside the region who may be in the area and are willing to speak to a local group.
A "schmooze" can be as simple as getting together with a few people who want to meet each other, maybe with games and ice breakers. Or it can be as big a limited attendance workshop. There are all kinds of shapes they can take - it only depends on what the Local Liaison thinks will be fun and informative! And you wouldn’t be walking the plank all by yourself, either. In addition to guidelines from SCBWI, experienced Local Liaisons are happy to share information, and our PAL members are generous with their time and talents. I was once a Local Liaison, and look where I am now (LOL)!
As I said, our Local Liaisons do it because it is FUN!
Want more information? There will be an LL meeting on Saturday, March 14 at the Decatur public library before the Springmingle sessions begin. You do not have to be registered for the conference to attend this meeting.
Can’t make the meeting? Contact me. I’d love to hear from you. The more volunteer power we put into Southern Breeze, the farther we can go together!
RA SCBWI Southern Breeze
Claudia writes a little bit of everything, sews, cooks, crochets, wears a lot of hats, and spends a lot of time with her grandchildren.