Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Creating in Community by Erica Wood

The New Year comes rushing in like a story ready to be opened. “Once upon a time” is the casting of a spell, isn’t it? Anything can happen. But what if the existence of so much possibility mires me down? I want to accomplish everything and instead I do nothing. I don’t even start.

As we prepared for a new year of programming, the volunteers of the Regional Team asked ourselves, what do we need most to make the work of creating possible and successful in 2022? The pandemic has clarified the answer to this question. We need each other. For me, no amount of organization, progress-trackers, positive self-talk, meditation, or sugar can replace the effect of being around and working around and buzzing on the energy of fellow creatives. To be clear, all of these elements are necessary (especially sugar). But after spending two years in semi-lockdown, I feel the deficit of support and accountability.

If you’re feeling it, too, I hope you’ll lean into the glorious atmosphere of our monthly Zoom mingle, Ignite The Spark, where hosts John Strong and Linda Gerber entice your creative sensibilities with intriguing prompts.

For those who have registered for the 30th Birthday Program, I hope you’ll take advantage of the community we will build together over the course of the year. This isn’t a one-and-done type program, but a chance to develop a creative lifestyle.

If you need help finding a critique group, reach out to our Critique Coordinator, Vijaya Bodach. Want to form a new critique group? Let us run an ad for you in the newsletter. Want to re-energize your existing group? Try giving each other deadlines.

If you’re new here and not sure exactly where to start, allow me to introduce you to Megan Hoyt, our New Members Coordinator.

However you find ways to connect this year, my wish for each of us is that our story will go something like this: Once upon a time, there was a genius named    (fill in your name)    .  Sometimes when they put pen to paper, magic came out, and sometimes it did not. Still, this genius kept creating.

Meet the volunteers of the Regional Team:

She writes and illustrates picture books and cares deeply about providing quality programming that will attract illustrators in every stage of their professional development. Our Illustrator Coordinator is the talented Ashley Belote.

You’ve seen her encouraging and engaging Carolinas members for years. She’s a PB illustrator and writer who champions the critique group experience (and participates in more critique groups than I can remember). Elizabeth Rawls is our Assistant Regional Advisor.

With an eye for detail, our Co-Assistant Regional Advisor writes in any genre that tickles her fancy while working to ensure members receive the most well-rounded programming. You’d be surprised how many details she holds in her head at one time. It’s Becky Shillington.

And the person lucky enough to be serving as Regional Advisor, is me, Erica Wood. I’m writing mostly YA and looking for ways to cram as much poetry into life as possible. And yes, I do resist writing when it doesn’t feel magical.

That is my challenge for 2022.

What is yours?