Hello cHEwY gum gums

Woke up this morning, I suddenly realised that we’re all in this together…

Sorry, had a Ben Lee moment there 🙂

On the weekend, I went to the NSW Writers Centre (now Writing NSW) for the KIDYA festival, a place where writers of all stages can embrace the joy of writing for kids. I really do mean that, I was reminded of how lucky I am to be part of a kidlit community that looks after its writers, whether you’ve just started out or been around for awhile.

Jacqueline Harvey mentioned this in her session about her writing journey. She said that we need to be grateful and kind to one another. If you spend your time getting jealous or bitter about other author’s successes, it’s not going to make you a better person, it’s a waste of time. Now this isn’t some feel good positive for the sake of being positive kinda thing. I experienced this close-knit community feeling first hand when I started out 10 years ago. I remember when I first met Kate Forsyth at a CBCA Northern Sydney sub-branch meeting, and she treated me as if I was already an established writer. She gave me advice and shared some of her stories to publication. It was like that with other authors such as Belinda Murrell, Jacqueline, Tristan Bancks and many more who I’ve gotten to know over the years. Writers may not have colleagues per se, but we all get along when we do meet at festivals and the occasional pub for dinner haha.

There are no egos here. I’ve met my idols such as Andy Griffths and Morris Gleitzman, and I can approach them like they were normal people. In fact, it was me not being normal as I try NOT to fanboy myself to death haha. Then there was meeting Jeff Kinney at this year’s Sydney Writers Festival, he seemed quite normal to me. Now of course, this could be the author being polite and professional on the promotion tour, and smiling at everybody who comes to them. But I think it’s beyond that. I’m so lucky to have many writer friends, old and new (such as Tim Harris and Matt Cosgrove), and catching up with them at various events.

Now this might feel like a namedropathon, and maybe it is haha, but I reckon if you are serious about being a kids writer or illustrator, you will feel the same too. Join your local CBCA or SCBWI branch, writers group, or rock up at festivals like the one at NSW Writers Centre, and embrace the community. Every kids author is out there, doing their best. There’s enough love to go around.

You can start with me by following me on either Twitter or Instagram haha. I won’t bite…unless you’re a burger 🙂

Oliver ‘Winfree’ (@oliverwinfree)

About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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