Saturday 9th of Feb meeting in Lygon Street, Carlton had a brilliant turn out.
The meeting kicked off with a quick wrap up of who does what at SCBWI Victoria, Tasmania, & South Australia, and it was great to see Julie Hunt had made the long trip up from Tasmania to join us.
Then we were introduced to our panel of "Quiet Achievers": Diana Lawrenson, Pauline Luke, Errol Broome, Edel Wignell. Their introductions, including their previous careers, the variety of publications and awards was impressive. Such a wealth of experience and if we were to stack all the books they'd had published on the table in front of this illustrious panel, we'd no longer see them! Edel Wignell has entered three figures!
Claire Saxby kept them hopping with a variety of questions and the "Quiet Achievers" kept us entertained with their candid and sometimes amusing answers.
When asked "What Hasn't Changed?" with regard to writing, Edel Wignell told us of a poll she conducted as a journalist 20 years ago where authors responded that the greatest pleasure of writing was encountering children who enjoyed what they had written. This is also her greatest pleasure and that hasn't changed. Pauline Luke loves it when she has a good idea and the words flow. Diana Lawrenson loves the obsession, when you simply have to write. Errol Broome still likes the need for isolation and recounted a story when she declined to join friends for cards and told them she knew she'd be a lonely old woman, and they responded cheekily, "You already are!"
We found out about their favourite childhood books, who inspired them, how they would like to use technology, and what they're working on now, except for Errol Broome, who quoted Helen Garner, "If you talk about what you're writing, you'll take the steam out of it!"
Stephen Whiteside did a quick show and tell with his Golden Gum Leaf Poetry Award. Show and tell will be a regular segment at meetings this year, so members, please bring along your new books/awards for a quick showing.
Michelle Prawer, CBCA Victorian Judge, teacher and mother to seven children, took the floor to regale us with tales of reading every single children's book published in Australia in the last two years. That's 365 books last year and 400 this year!
The Children's Book Council of Australia has been around 60 years and the award is funded by interest from a million dollars raised by the foundation for that purpose. They are run entirely by volunteers and their aim is to promote Australian children's literature. The CBCA have fantastic events and are very keen to promote local writers and illustrators so Michelle encourages you all to pop along to the website and think about joining. Coming up on 13 March in Box Hill is Zart Art where you can meet and enjoy the work of three very talented and quirky local illustrators. http://www.cbca.org.au
Michelle talked about how getting onto the shortlist has changed the lives of local authors, how teachers and librarians use the shortlist and the categories of judging.
Michelle took us through the judging process, the joys and pressures of having endless boxes of books arriving on her doorstep, the frustration of championing the books she adores when the seven judges from the other states and territories have chosen other books and how they work together in a five day working conference to come up with the final shortlist.
Michelle also gave 32 talks to students, teachers and librarians last year, telling them about the amazing books on the shortlist. And all as a volunteer! Michelle's enthusiasm for children's literature and her pride in her work and the work of the CBCA is infectious. Thank you, Michelle!
Future meetings will also have a whiteboard where members can share any information. Notes from this meeting are: Marjory Gardner is putting together a Photoshop workshop specifically for illustrators. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest. Jo Thompson and Virginia Lowe's next date to Create a Picture Book is 23rd of February.
Our next meeting is March 23rd in Adelaide! So South Australians, put that date aside, and we hope to see you out in force. Remember non-members can attend as well. The next date in Victoria is May 4th in Pakenham.
All photographs are courtesy of Anne Ryan, and came with this lovely message:
"Thank you for organising a wonderful meeting yesterday, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing all speakers talk and particularly enjoyed the four quiet achievers share their stories. We so often have to listen to people today who are always talking, the loudest prevail in our society and they are not necessarily always the best quality or the most interesting. It was a great idea to get them together and gather force. Such a wealth of knowledge and experience." Anne Ryan
Thanks, Anne! And thank you Corinne and Claire for a great meeting.