So, most everyone has heard about Sara Zarr’s speech at SCBWI. In case you haven’t…yeah, it was pretty great.
I won’t give you a play by play because, well, that’s always kind of boring and besides, I didn’t take notes (since once she started speaking I was too into what she was saying and forgot). But I will say this, I walked away feeling incredibly inspired.
See, Sara Zarra spoke to the hearts of the doubtful, the downtrodden, the still- hanging-on-to-this-dream-even-though-your-knuckles-are-turning-white-and-there’s-no-catch-net-underneath-and-everyone-is-wondering-where-your-starving-writer’s-ass-got-the-money-to-go-to-a-conference-in-New York-because…well, you’re-a-starving-artist-and-in-general-kinda-seem-a wee-bit-outta-touch-for wanting-to-be-(scoff)-a-writer. And if you fit in this category, this speech was like salve on a wound that’s constantly been rubbed with salt.
Okay, I’m verging on melodramatic and yeah, she spoke to the hearts of all. But her speech seems to have resonated a bit more with those who even as they sat in the crowd, were perhaps wondering if this dream was ever going to happen. Why? Because she knew the feeling and was honest in sharing it with the audience. She told us about being a writer down on her luck, of losing her purse and wallet when she was at SCBWI as an attendee ten years ago, of going through the process of switching agents, of a writer who’d been chasing a dream for a long time and didn’t know if this was ever going to happen.
And now she stood in front of us, delivering what may well have been the most inspiring keynote of the whole conference because…
it was VALIDATION for every writer (or illustrator) in the audience.
Validation? Yes, validation. See, we all know this profession is one where validation seems almost unattainable. You may at first think you will feel validated if you write on a regular basis, then maybe only when you finish a manuscript, then only when you get requests, then perhaps you’ll really be validated when you finally get an agent, or when your edits are complete, or when you’re on submission, or when your book is sold, or if it sells _______copies or…well, you get the idea. Validation always seems out of grasp or fleeting. And when you’ve done none of the above, when you feel like you might be setting yourself up for failure or are unsure if you’ll ever be able to clear the next hurdle, then hearing that what you do matters, that it is important and necessary, well then, that is one hundred percent, unadulterated validation.
Sara Zarr stressed the importance of creativity. She urged us to take care of and nurture our creative selves. And that message is one all of us need to hear. In a business that is too unpredictable, too harsh at times, too draining on your spirit, too full of rejection, it is essential to take care of the reason you set foot on this path. Zarr reminded us that creativity is important. Nurturing that part of ourselves that creates IS important. In the face of doubt, fear, failure, more failure, more doubt, even success, those who create matter, what they create matters, and they should value their ability to create because it is the most important element in this whole crazy business.
So, thanks Sara Zarr, for delivering such an insightful and inspiring message.
And now, YOU, stop reading this. Go, take care of your creative self, and…create (you know, after you post a comment or something).
Bit o’trivia: I met Sara Zarr in the lobby and shook her hand and got all tongue-tied and stupid. I practically ran away after gushing about Story of a Girl and she probably thinks I’m a psycho. Nice.
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