I loved Meg Rosoff's HOW I LIVE NOW, and I look forward to reading her other books. I had never seen Meg in person, so was looking forward to hearing her keynote at the SCBWI Winter Conference. Meg is wonderfully blunt, witty, opinionated. And very, very funny.
One of the things Meg said in her keynote really hit home: That sometimes we get so caught up in worrying about how to get published, promotion, reviews and sales figures that we forget to remind ourselves of how important our books can be to children, and how our books can change their lives.
To be clear: I want to make a living at creating children's books; it's not just a hobby for me, so I DO need to appreciate the business side. However, I think I also need to remind myself more often about one of the reasons I love children's books so much.
Books affect me as an adult, but not nearly as deeply as they did when I was a child. My view of the world and myself changed so much as a result of reading books back then, for good and for bad. There were books that became part of me and are still part of me. Reminding myself of how important books were to me as a young person will not only help motivate me to craft better stories but also help me persevere when the publishing process gets difficult.
Something else that Meg said that I wish more aspiring children's book authors would understand: children are not dumbed-down adults. I've seen so many mss that talk down to young readers in a way that makes me wonder if the author has forgotten what it was like to be a child himself/herself.
For more info about Meg Rosoff and her work: http://www.megrosoff.co.uk/
For more info about the SCBWI: http://www.scbwi.org/