The 40th Summer Conference of the SCBWI is over. I’m at the airport lounge looking out over the airport, seeing friends leave the hazy city that shimmers in the background. It makes me sad that I have to leave, knowing that it will take quite a while before I will see most of my friends and my mentors again. While writers work in solitude and –usually– love the quietness, just like I do, there is nothing more energizing than being around kindred spirits. We’ve shared a lot these past week: break-throughs, new publications, leaps-forward, staggering discoveries, stirring workshops, riveting keynotes and above all continuing friendships and the making of new ones.

Being at the conference as the Regional Advisor of the Netherlands chapter was an exciting experience. It brought me to the very heart of what SCBWI is about: the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people.
I loved every minute of it.

SCBWI 40th Summer Conference

It is too early to give a full account of the conference and its meetings, parties and four days crammed with keynotes and workshops. It has to sink in a bit more. What I do know and what will stay with me forever is the workshop by author Bruce Coville. He told us to do just that what scares me most: leave my comfort zone. What he literally said was: “If you see a cliff, jump off it. It’s the only way to grow wings.”
I so suck at jumping off cliffs. I need to know where I go, where I will end up. I need to plan and plot my way forward in life and in my writing life, but Bruce’s words hit a chord that made me sing inside –thankfully inside only, because I really, really can’t sing without shattering all the windows in a four-mile radius. I know that I will have to jump of cliffs to get most out of my writing life and from now on I will. I might hesitate at first, but in the end I am convinced that I will jump.
You might wonder why I would take that risk. I tell you: I can take that risk because I know about the solid and warm net that’s down every cliff. That net is SCBWI, a net knotted of the most wonderful writers and illustrators in the world.

Thank you Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser for jumping off that cliff 40 years ago!