At SCBWI LA 2010, I discovered the beauty of emotion literary authors conjure up in all of us. It’s their soul they pour on the page instead of chasing a trend or writing to fill publishing house’s needs. They carefully place every word in their manuscript, giving each one life and purpose. They take a piece of themselves and leave it behind for all to experience.
First, what is a literary author? Well besides those books with the shiny little sticker, I think the best way to define a literary authors is to compare it to commercial fiction, introspective vs. popular. Since the term “literary author” is new to me, I scoured the internet looking for a more complete picture of how to compare the two. Wading Through Words blog had a fabulous article by Hema P. Literary vs. Commercial. It’s a short article that gives the skeleton overview.
The appeal to being a literary author is the shiny little sticker. Because that sticker says, I recognize your writing as a quality body of work. Isn’t that what all writers really want?
At the SCBWI LA Conference they do just that with the Golden Kite Awards. Two of the people I mention below received that award this year.
Golden Kite Award for The Longest Night
She has written over seventy books and this particular book she won for “Picture Book Text.” Something as simple as a picture book text can be a literary piece. The words are beautiful and written not so much poetic but artistic nature. Lin Oliver (SCBWI Host/Founder) said this about The Longest Night: “The words jump off the page and into your mouth and demand to have voice.” I couldn’t have said it better. If you get a chance you should read Marion's journal pages from her website. She doesn’t write from them often but when she does, they are like and elegant poem, sprouted from the seeds of everyday life.
Winner of the Michael L. Prince Honor for The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things
Carolyn gave me the most giggles during her keynotes. She made fun of herself and the fantastical, unrealistic diary entry she wrote in her twenties. There were little things she said in her speech that stuck with me. Rules or absolutes she has discovered through writing.
She wants to stop apologizing. I find myself wanting the same. It’s a bad habit that I am more focused on dropping. I’m not saying I’ll never apologize again but I don’t need to apologize to the person in line behind me when the cashier is taking too long. Or I shouldn’t say “sorry” to someone because I want to pass by them in a crowded place. A simple “excuse me” will suffice.
Carolyn’s book, The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, has been removed from several library shelves because of the risky subject matter. Things like sex…yeah, because teenagers are having sex because they read it in a book. Doesn’t it make you wonder if adults remember their teenage years? Mine are quite vivid, hell and all. But what Carolyn learned from her experience is “by standing out, you can get shot down.” Unfortunately that is very true but she also got a shiny sticker because she did stand out.
Lastly, Carolyn said through her writing she realized, “She deserves to take up space.” This statement knocked me off my feet. I elude people to believing I am a strong confident woman but on the inside, I’m as vulnerable as they come. My lack of confidence gives me the bad habit of apologizing for no reason. It also causes me to minimize my own self worth. But I too deserve to take up space. Whether others around me agree or not, I do. Whether they like it or not, I do. It kind of gives me a new sense of value about myself. I like it.
Golden Kite Award for Words to My Life’s Song
When Julia Durango accepted her Golden Kite Award, she said the night before at the SCBWI Heart and Soul Celebration, she had the opportunity to dance with 87 year old Ashley Bryan to the tune of “I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie.” That statement speaks volumes to the ever evolving man that is Ashley Bryan.
After accepting his own award, he had the entire crowd chanting poetry of Lankston Hughes and Eloise Greenfield. The animation and convection he spoke those words with will stick to me for the rest of my life. That is when the light bulb went on for me about what it truly means to be a literary author. Like I have said in a previous post, it won’t be this book or maybe the next but I do have a book growing inside of me, waiting to bloom. When it does, I hope it is regarded as a literary piece.