I’ve spent this past weekend in Melbourne at KidLitVic – Meet the Publishers conference. This is an amazing annual professional development day, where children’s literary creators connect with Australia’s leading children’s book publishers.
My experience was an extremely worthwhile but very intense 9 hours immersed in the world of children’s literature. The energy of 250+ passionate KidLit creators, publishers and agents in a room together is something quite extraordinary. The day was filled with perspective-expanding panels, manuscript assessments, enlightening conversations, the opportunity to catch up with existing creative colleagues from all around Australia and the delight of forming the start of some lovely and unexpected new relationships, in person.
The event organisers (Nicky Johnston, Coral Vass and Alison Reynolds) did a first rate job of putting together an educational, inspirational and professionally run program.
My head is full to bursting with fresh information, shifted perspectives, new ideas and adjusted strategies. Motivation overdrive.
Highlights of #KidLitVic2019 for me were many, but there were definitely some standout statements made on panels that packed a really personal punch for me. You know the kind of statements that you may have heard in passing 1 or 100 times before but, because of the set of circumstances you’re currently surrounded by, you draw a different or more immediately impactful meaning from them? Yep, those heart-starters.
This conference, for me, was peppered with these ‘sit up and pay attention, Dannika – this is what you need to hear right now…’ moments. My notebook has a lot of circles and exclamation points in it. I’m travelling well…but I have a long way to go.
With one picture book released last year (Jacaranda Magic, Ford Street Publishing) and a handful more in various stage of production, both in Australia and overseas, I’m still a very junior up-and-comer in this game and I came to KidLitVic primarily to learn. Tick. I’m excited for what’s coming next.
Flying home, reviewing my notebook full of golden advice gained and writing myself a looooooong list of follow-ups to action, my single most important #KidLitVic2019 takeaway is this: we are all in this together.
Publisher. Editor. Author. Illustrator. Agent.
Our jobs are very different. Our primary goal is the same.
Although we are all coming at our roles with a unique collection of priorities, pressures, passions, opportunities, skill sets and whatever other wildcard life is throwing at us at the time, we are all doing the very best we can for what boils down to the very same reason…to make a story we LOVE into a book that will be read.
After our book is made, when our extended tribe are added to the mix – a librarian, teacher, book shop owner, parent or friend will place that particular part of our collective souls into the hands of a particular child at exactly the right time. It may make them laugh. It may expand their mind. It may exercise their empathy. It may be their friend. It may change their life. And you – whatever your role in the making of that particular story into that particular book, however light your touch – were an essential part of that. Goal = kicked.
So here’s to being in this quirky, heart-fuelled, KidLit community of ours together. Be you an author, illustrator, editor, publisher, part of someone’s support crew or an impressive combination of any or all of these wonderful and necessary cogs of the creative wheel: I respect all that you do and I am thankful that you continue to do it. Despite competing priorities. Despite overwhelm. Despite the occupational hazard of generalised anxiety many of us feel, much of the time. Despite the element of crystal-balling that all our jobs entail. Despite…whatever your particular mountain is right now.
Good luck with whatever you are pouring your heart, mind and soul into creating today.
It is not possible, without you.