Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Finding Your Community

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I hope everyone has recovered from your Telescope Day (see my December 3 post) celebrations yesterday! I had to curtail mine this year because in addition to working on a number of manuscripts, yesterday was the deadline for me to submit copy for the section I edit of the CANSCAIP News.

CANSCAIP stands for Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers (canscaip.org and pronounced CAN-scape). This organization supports and promotes children’s literature, but perhaps even more importantly, it supports and promotes children’s authors, illustrators and performers.

As a freelance writer working at home, not only do I not have a water cooler, but there are also no co-workers standing around wanting to chat. (Cosimo, our cat, is better at eating than chatting.) And often writers need to vent to another writer, i.e., someone who really understands, about publishers, editors (note to editors with whom I’m currently working: of course this does NOT mean you!), computers, lettuce crispers — just about anything. As well, as a friend of mine said recently, only another writer can truly celebrate the good news of a new contract and another project.

Organizations such as CANSCAIP, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, scbwi.org), The Writers’ Union of Canada (writersunion.ca) and many other regional associations provide a community for those of us who don’t automatically have workplace relationships. These groups also offer opportunities to ask questions about new tax legislation, find out how others handle making presentations, learn about the latest social media technology and much more.

If you’re interested in children’s books and live in Toronto, CANSCAIP meets every second Wednesday of the month. The next CANSCAIP meeting takes place next Wednesday, December 11, from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. at 720 Bathurst St. (just south of Bloor), at the Centre for Social Innovation, in the ING Presentation Room, on the ground floor.

Each meeting starts with announcements of any news that has occurred since the last meeting, including an opportunity for authors and illustrators to talk about books they’ve just published. New books are applauded and celebrated, as are newcomers and other visitors.

Then it’s on to the main presentation of the evening. Next week, the subject will be “Tackling the Hard Topics — Social Justice in Children’s Books” and the speakers will be authors Kathy Kacer, Judie Oron and Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch.

CANSCAIP authors and illustrators will also be at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference in Toronto on January 31, 2014, so if you’re at the conference, please come over and say hello.

And if you don’t live in Toronto, but are interested in any of the groups I’ve mentioned, look at their Web sites to find out where and when their meetings in your area are held, and start building your own writing community.

And Another Thing …
Happy 68th Birthday, Roberta Bondar! Most Canadians know that she was the first Canadian woman in space. But what I discovered when I wrote about her in "The Kids Book of Great Canadian Women," was that she turned down her first opportunity to rocket into space, despite the fact that all her life she’d desperately wanted to go.

Bondar had been offered a place on board Russia’s Mir space station to take part in a study looking at the effects of weightlessness on women. However she felt she was being invited not because of her talents as a scientist, but simply because she was a woman. So she said no. Bondar finally got her chance to go to space in January 1992. If you’d been her, would you have been able to say no to that first offer of space travel? I’m not sure I could have.

Thanks for reading.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Elizabeth MacLeod

Award-winning author Elizabeth MacLeod has written over 50 books for children. Her most recent book, Bones Never Lie: How Forensics Helps Solve History’s Mysteries, was published by Annick Press.

Go to Elizabeth MacLeod’s Author Page