I'm blessed to live in the Seattle area where there are probably 150 published children's writers and a very strong chapter of SCBWI with superb and energetic leadership. For many years, I didn't attend as many monthly meetings as I would've liked. I just couldn't seem to find the energy or time for the 45 - 60 minute commute (depending on traffic) from my home south of Seattle. My children were young, I was still working my "day job," plus I really don't like to drive. In the last couple of years, however, I've been trying to get to more meetings. I was even a guest speaker in November, and a critique group leader for the annual "Great Critique" in January. No matter what the meeting topic, I always come away with some new ideas to think about and, just as importantly, good feelings from chitchatting with my fellow writers--whether published, or on the road toward publication.
Children's writers are some of the nicest folks you'll ever meet. You might think that, as difficult as it is to get published, competitive feelings would run high. I imagine we all battle the green envy monster from time to time when we hear of someone else's sucess, but there is always a greater sense that we're all in this together.
Last weekend I was one of a group of twenty-six children's authors invited to speak at a state reading conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What a delight it was to visit with these fellow authors--some of whom I'd met before, but most of whom I hadn't. We laughed a lot as we traded tips, talked about current projects, our families, and the publishing biz. Talk about instant camaraderie! I returned home feeling like I'd made several new friends.