Monday, 7 May 2012

"Spending time with the tribe" ... Meg McKinlay, guest blogger

Meg McKinlay.. This will be my first SCBWI conference and no one is more surprised than me that I’m actually going. 

It’s not the distance or the expense, though those are certainly factors when you live, as they say, off the earth in Perth.
Meg McKinlay, children's author and poet

It’s just that I’m not really a joiner. I’m not really into groups and gatherings. I’m much happier getting all hermitty in my little study with only books and silence and the occasional grevillea-visiting honey-eater for company.

When I joined SCBWI, it wasn’t for networking or support or anything remotely groupish or social. It was because I had been trying and failing to crack that elusive first publication here in Australia, and was considering submitting directly to the US. Lacking any contacts or information on the market there, I saw SCBWI as a resource, something I might join for a year, strip-mine for information, and then be on my way.

Six years later, I find myself the newly minted ARA for SCBWI West, heading off to the National Conference. I’m still not entirely sure how this happened, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I’ve found SCBWI to be such an incredibly welcoming organisation, supportive of gregarious networkers and solitary hermits alike, and also professionally useful in so many ways that go beyond the simple gleaning of facts and contact details. The wealth of knowledge among members, so generously shared, is one of SCBWI’s real strengths, and something I know will be a feature of what is shaping up to be an amazing conference.

I’m something of a paradoxical hermit in that, given the right circumstances, I love to talk. I love to debate, argue, and discuss. And I hope to do a lot of that over the course of the weekend. I’ll be participating in a panel on “Realistic Fiction”, and chairing another on “Industry News” with delegates from the ASA, CAL, and the NSW Writers Centre. And I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into those discussions. Mostly, though, I’ll be sitting back, listening to others, learning, mingling, enjoying being in the company of likeminded people.

I can’t say that I have any tangible goals for the conference other than Spend time with my tribe and Think about stuff. But I’m a fan of woolly goals, and suspect that will be more than enough to send me away satisfied.

Congratulations to Meg on her appointment as Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI West (Ed. :)


  1. Couldn't agree more, Meg. They really are a special bunch, and like you, it is about the only group I have ever joined. Part of the reason I never, ever played sport was that you had to join a team, and I couldn't bring myself to do that.

    This too is my first conference, but I'm looking forward to 'sharing the love." Sorry, the hippy days often flashback, usually when I'm being public.

    I'll see you there in Sydley and we can share a drink, or an occasional LSD tab between sessions. Cool, man. xN

  2. Anonymous? How did that happen? It's me, Meg, Norman.

  3. Norman! I didn't know you were going. I may have to rethink things ...

    Seriously, it's going to be great.

    Re "Anonymous", I would have known it was you from your xN, which seems to have become your signature. But I also love the last line of your second comment. Shades of Judy Blume, somehow. Perhaps your next book could be, "Are you there, Meg? It's me, Norman."

  4. I think wooly goals will be perfect for the chilly June evenings in Sydney; perhaps Susanne can convince the kitchen staff of the Hughenden to rustle-up some mulled wine to go with them? =) Congrats on the appointment, and see you there. Scott C.

  5. Looking forward to finally meeting you, Norman. :) And yes, Scott, love the sound of the mulled wine on a chilly Sydney night.

  6. Meg, I'm looking forward to finally meeting you too at the conference! :) Thanks for the guest post.

  7. To Meg: Thanks for sharing a little about yourself Meg. I am still at the waiting and one day hoping to be published stage. Therefore I am nervously looking forward to attending my first conference and you give me hope that they are incredibly valuable experiences!

    To Sheryl: I wonder if there could be a post written about 'Tips for attending your first conference' kind of theme? Maybe one for published authors and one for unpublished/prepublished?

    Thanks again, Ramona

  8. I think most authors/illustrators are hermits (I know I am most of the time) but I relish my time-out from the desk with authors and illustrators at events like the SCBWI conference. Will look forward to meeting you Meg!

  9. Great idea, Ramona. I'll organise it. :)