Wednesday, May 15, 2019

WRITER 2 WRITER: STORYMAKERS AND POLITICS



This past weekend I attended the STORYMAKERS WRITERS CONFERENCE in Provo, Utah. I believe this was my 5th visit with this particular conference, and I have to say it was my favorite so far.

First, my daughter Carissa attended with me (she came last year too). She and I not only did conference stuff, but we also hung out with my son Stuart who is attending college nearby, visited with my cousins who I hadn't seen in a long time, saw a play together, and tried several yummy restaurants.

Second, my sister also flew in from Seattle, and we spent plenty of time with her.

Third, the food and classes were excellent! Carissa rightfully stated that the overall quality of this year's conference was much better than last year. We even got a really cool, nice quality business bag instead of the usual tote.

Over the past decade or so, I've attended about thirty different conferences and retreats. Most have been via the SCBWI (Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators), some with Storymakers, and others with a variety of different organizations. I've enjoyed them all, but what I love most about Storymakers is the feeling of comradarie and acceptance among the hundreds of attendees. Most of us are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so we are connected by our faith and values. But other than offering prayers over our meals, you won't hear much spoken about religion or politics or social ideas at Storymakers. It's all about writing.

And that's the way it should be. Despite our common religious backgrounds, there were all kinds of men and women there: blue and purple hair, women with babies, all levels of education, some with band t-shirts and others in dresses, a diversity of personalities and tastes and cultures. Everyone was welcome and accepted.

In recent years, I stopped attending SCBWI events because they became too political. Speakers began inserting their personal political agendas into their presentations, forgetting that children's books writers come from all walks of life. As a politically conservative woman, I increasingly felt that I was not welcome in SCBWI anymore. The organization itself was never meant to be political, but with so many high ranking members and speakers being liberal and becoming so vocal about it, I just stopped feeling like part of the tribe.

Storymakers, on the other hand, has never vocalized politics. By the very nature of the fact that most members are LDS and Christian, most of us are probably conservative too, though not everyone is. But the cool thing is... WHO CARES! At this year's conference, politics were checked at the door, allowing everyone to feel like part of a vast, wonderful family of writers.

Thank you to Storymakers for being so inclusive and making it all about what really counts: WRITING.

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