By the way, a quick apology for doing a post about how I’m going to post regularly then nothing for over a week. Life interfering again! 😉

A couple of weeks ago I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. That’s quite a mouthful so it’s SCBWI [Scooby, as in the cartoon dog. You see what I did with the post title now?] for short.

It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while, but since I admitted to myself that I really wanted to write for children more than anything else, it became a much higher priority. And already I think it could be one of the best things I’ve ever done, career-wise. 

I may or may not have mentioned on here that I’m entering the Undiscovered Voices competition; I’ve definitely mentioned it (just once or twice…) on Twitter and Facebook. This is a biannual competition run by SCBWI British Isles whereby unpublished and unagented writers can submit the first 4000 words of their book, twelve winners are chosen and compiled into an anthology which is then circulated around literary agents and children’s publishers. Obviously this is a massive career boost to the winners – thirteen of the twenty-four winners so far are either now published or under contract. And I’d imagine that Honorary Mentions would get a little more attention than they otherwise would. Put it this way, I wouldn’t sniff at an Honorary Mention! I posted my entry this morning, and I got an actual shiver thinking “You never know, this could actually be the start of something”. Fingers crossed, anyway. The competition is only open to SCBWI British Isles members, so there’s Very Good Reason #1 to join.

Very Good Reason #2 is the Ning. It’s a social network for SCBWI BI members to connect, see events, and all the usual things you can do with social networks. Except this time you’re not connecting with random people, they’re all people doing what you love doing, with varying degrees of success at all different stages of their careers. There’s also a Facebook group. These two internet networks mean that you can start chatting to people and being as proactive as you want to be.

Very Good Reason #3 is the North East network. I came into contact with the NE Group Co-ordinator, Maureen, a month or two ago at a workshop she ran in Middlesbrough along with her daughter (also a SCBWI member). The workshop was excellent, in both the learning and analysing part and the anonymous critique session and I went home amazingly buoyed by the evening. I’ve been on another workshop since, and it was just as good. I tend to assume that the North East gets a little overlooked but not in SCBWI. The group has regular meetings, workshops and I think it’s got some really exciting stuff coming up that I WANT to be part of.

I sometimes think writers are a bit like wolves. And bear in mind here that I’m a children’s writer, not a zoologist, so please imagine a cute cartoon wolf not a real one. Probably tripping over its gangly legs or something. Anyway, what I mean is that we all like our moments of howling at the moon, preferably as dramatically as possible, but we also like to run in packs. We look after each other, cheer each other on, and lick each other’s wounds when we’re hurt. And let’s be honest, ‘normal’ people also think we’re a bit weird. I think, in SCBWI, I might just have found my pack.