One of the many things I love about Austin is our strong, active children’s writing community.

I’m very lucky to live in a city where we have a concentration of social children’s authors. Whether it’s panels or meetings hosted by our local SCBWI or the Texas Writer’s League, we have many opportunities to get together and share writing war stories.

Just last night I attended a panel on first drafts — I wasn’t on it, I just went to listen to other people discuss the craft. After the panel, the Leitich Smiths (one of the most social writing couples I think I’ve ever met) rounded up all the children’s writers and herded us out for drinks.

(And before I’m bombarded with emails on the evils of drinking and pregnancy, rest assured, I had three glasses of water and chicken nachos. I have witnesses.)

While out, I had the chance to catch up on industry and local gossip, and I was able to meet some newer (to me) members of the writing community. I had a wonderful time just sitting and talking books with all of these people. I’m greatful for the adult, non-baby related conversations I was able to participate in. It was nice to get out of the house and away from the computer, even for a few moments.

I would like to encourage everyone to get out and mingle with your fellow authors. Writing can be a very solitary pursuit — just you and your keyboard or pad of paper. Interactions like these help you maintain perspective. Having trouble with a first draft? Get Cynthia to tell you all about how she deletes every first draft she ever writes. And I don’t mean throws away the hardcopy. No, no. She makes every copy, paper or electronic, disappear. Forever. When your hear the tale, it’s both liberating and heartbreaking at the same time.

And best of all, hanging out with your fellow authors is the best networking you can do. You’ll find out who’s agent is looking at work, what school has the most lucrative school visits, etc. So, get out there and start talking. Break that stereotype of the wan author locked in a dark windowless room working feverishly on a manuscript. You can do that when you get back.

And, if you do happen to be lucky enough to live in Austin, the SCBWI has a meeting tomorrow at BookPeople. See you all there.

© Copyright 2006-2011 Madeline Smoot. All rights reserved.
May be excerpted and duplicated for educational purposes.