Could I be any farther away?

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 matterwhat 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.

Follow me on Twitter @jetchez

This entry was posted in Everyday Writing, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Writer's Resources, YA and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Sara Zarr at SCBWI-VALIDATION!

  1. Kathy Quimby says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about a talk that really makes me wish I’d been able to attend. (I passed, because I’m revising, so maybe my priorities are right?)

    Next year I plan to go, and will bring with me a reminder that without our creativity, we have nothing to validate.

    Am now following orders and getting back to writing. 🙂

    • Thanks for dropping in, Kathy.
      If you get the chance, definitely go. It is quite inspiring to hear the keynotes and be surrounded by so many writers on the same journey. Also, so many willing to share what they know.

  2. I did read the speech, and agree with everything you said. Sometimes we all need a little validation, especially when we write and write and write, and then wait and wait and wait.

    You know that I totally understand being tongue-tied. I’m sure she thought you were sweet. What a great experience!

  3. erikamarks says:

    Thanks for this, Jenny–I hadn’t gotten to read/hear this so I appreciate you passing it along. The need for validation is never-ending. I think as we grow we accept that we don’t need it in some aspects of our lives, but it’s always there in others. And of course, even validation comes with the balance of criticism. It can be so hard to filter out the discouraging words and focus on the positive–hard, but crucial.

  4. You’re absolutely right, Erika. And I think writers especially seek this validation (whether we admit it or not) because creating stories is so personal and we all hope they will be meaningful to others in some way. I think that must be what is most important to the majority of us.
    Ah, and yes, focusing on the positive IS crucial. At times, it may be the only thing that keeps us going.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Fantastic post! I need frequent reminders that it’s okay to nurture my creative side…and that it’s okay to spend an hour daydreaming story ideas and count that as writing. And don’t worry about looking like a psycho–she’s probably used to awestruck writers :). Probably thought you were kinda cute :D.

    • Yes! Daydreaming is necessary and always work-related.
      Ha, well I prefer cute to psychotic. And I didn’t see any kind of officials scoping me out, pointing and whispering, “Keep an eye on that one,” so I guess it wasn’t that bad.
      Thanks for visiting!

  6. Lenore says:

    I was at SCBWI NY too, and Sara’s talk was my absolute favorite.

  7. A.S. King says:

    Sara Zarr is the awesome.
    I wish I would have heard this speech. It sounds utterly inspiring.

  8. Oh. My. God.
    A.S. King has entered the building, or, er the webosphere? Wow! Thanks so much for dropping by my humble little blog here!
    Yeah, it was great. You YA authors of the time are truly an inspiration for those of us chasing the dream. And I’m planning on wearing some ultra heavy steel shoes if I ever meet you so as to prevent me from running away.

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  10. Ghenet says:

    I loved her speech. She reminded me why I write in the first place. Since hearing her, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can make my creative life better. For one, I’m trying to focus less on publication and enjoy the process of creating.

    Ha, I love your reaction to meeting her. My friend and I took a picture with her and I was nervous too!

    p.s. I have an award for you on my blog! 🙂

    • Hi Ghenet,
      I think it’s great to learn as much as you can about the publishing side, but not at the expense of creating, so kudos to you!

      It was a bit embarrassing. I was like -So nice to meet you I love your book I love your book great book um keynote can’t wait um great great great bye- and then zoom!

      I’m so jealous you got a picture!

      Fun award! Thank you!

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  12. Julie Musil says:

    I’m so glad I found this post! I’m blogging about Validation on Tuesday, and will for sure link to this post. You said it better than I would have. Thanks!

  13. Jess says:

    Ohh, I was at SCBWI NY too! I wish I’d met you!

    Sara Zarr’s speech was far and away my favorite. Ever since, I’ve been trying to think of my writing career in two parts: the business/marketing/publishing side (where I can’t control v. much) and creating a sustainable, happy creative life (where I can). She was so inspiring.

    • Oh, I wish I knew you then!!! It would’ve been so cool to actually meet one of The Apocalypsies! Next time;)
      Yes, loved her speech, absolutely loved it, and I totally agree-she’s very inspiring.

  14. Creativity! Being a TCK (Third Culture Kid), I have always dealt with the insecurities of being ‘different’. Maybe now I should embrase that and let my writings be as creative and different as my life has been! Thank you.

    • I think everyone always feels different to some extent (I definitely, definitely did), so embracing those insecurities and letting them inspire and come through in your writing will probably resonate with lots of people. Let it shine!

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