Jumping rope used to be so fun. On the playground, we played double-dutch while chanting about Cinderella dressed in yella’. But when I signed up for my first real grown-up workout, and a ripped young trainer shouted, “150 jump ropes,” over Eminem blaring through the speakers, fun was not the word I uttered. This situation only escalated over the next few weeks as I was introduced to high-knees jumping rope and then double-unders: the act of flipping the rope under your feet twice before you land. What?
For months people told me this thing could be done. I just had to give myself permission to try.
I learned about SCBWI from an online creative writing class. I came to my first fall conference in 2012, six months pregnant with my first child. I couldn’t sit long so I stood in the back of the ballrooms most of that weekend and absorbed what felt like a crash course in children’s lit. Everything I heard was eye-opening. This thing could be done. I just had to get past the mental block of getting words on the page.
All my life I haven’t been sure if it’s practical or permissible for me to spend my time creating fiction. I agreed it was important for certain people to write, otherwise, we would never have met Jane Eyre or Nicholas Nickleby. But me? Were any of the characters hiding in the nooks of my imagination worth excavating?
Remember when Gary Schmidt came to the 25th-anniversary conference and caused us all to weep openly at the beauty and necessity of our creative work for the sake of young readers? That day I began to see the Carolinas chapter of SCBWI for what it is: a team of creators standing between tender-hearted readers and the tide of everything that would sweep us all away if we didn’t lock arms and hold each other up.
Some titles I’m gifting this year
Brene’ Brown says the true power of leadership is actually the empowering of each other. This is the approach I’ve found on our Regional Team. Our Co-Assistant Regional Advisors, Elizabeth Rawls and Becky Shillington, along with our Illustrator Coordinator, Ashley Belote, and our outgoing Regional Advisor, Donna Earnhardt have strived together this year to continue a legacy of premium content in the midst of chaos. While Donna prepares to step down for a much-deserved rest, I feel excited to get to participate with this team of wonder-makers.
Behind our RT is another group of coordinators keeping the jump rope spinning. Carol Baldwin, our blog coordinator, Derick Wilder, our PAL coordinator, Carolyn Fraiser, and Chuck Mall, our social media coordinators, Vijaya Bodach, our critique coordinator, Kris Black, our webmaster, Megan Hoyt, our regional member outreach coordinator, John Strong, and Linda Gerber, our mingles coordinators. And of course, Teresa Fannin, our Regional Advisor Emeritus. This isn’t just a list of names. These people are the reason our region hasn’t evaporated in the pandemic. I feel lucky to be in SCBWI-Carolinas. Who wouldn’t want to join this team?
In January this year, I did my first double-under. I have done four to date. I am also finishing the first draft of my MG novel. On December first I started serving this region. These are things that can be done.
I just have to pick up the jump rope.
Erica Wood grew up in Charlotte where she studied English, Theatre, and Creative Writing at Queens University. She received her Masters of Science in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy from Western Michigan University and worked with adults experiencing vision loss until she became a mother. Now she devotes her time to pandemic-style homeschooling and writing.
Erica writes middle grade, YA, and poetry. She believes in the holistic nature of creating and the lifelong process of staying curious. She has gained so much since joining SCBWI through the annual conferences, the community, and introduction to her stellar critique group, the Write Brainers.
Erica lives just north of Charlotte with her husband and two young children.