SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

The “E” Factor

Joan Broerman (Southern Breeze)

Art by Jo S. Kittinger (Southern Breeze)

The “E” Factor comes in many forms, sometimes traveling in a pack, sometimes armed and dangerous. OK, maybe it just feels that way. RA’s are surrounded by a whirlwind of E’s.

EGO

The first and most obvious “E” is EGO. Boiling down the textbook definition, it’s what you think of yourself. Everybody has an ego.

A sister RA lamented that a certain conference speaker suffered terribly from “Eye-ritis.”

“How painful!” I said.

“Only for those who have to listen to him,” she said. “Not EYE-ritis, but I-ritis:  I need…I want…I am…”

His particular “E” factor was Entitlement.

Although the entitlement “E” is most likely to show up at conference time, it also lurks within a region as another “E”– elitist.

ELITIST

A writer who gets published quickly and easily might mistake the luck of being at the right place at the right time for genius. Most RA’s tolerate this attitude fairly well. Usually, we see this form of elitism shrink when the genius sends out another manuscript and it accumulates a stack of rejections.

One form of elitism is an elephant in the room: That’s PAL. PAL is new and developing as a solid source of career enhancing information. Alas, some PAL members consider it a perk and smirk. They are the popular people, the ones with the secret handshake. You RA’s who are not yet published are uniquely qualified to be sensitive to the feelings of your non-PAL members while meeting the needs of your PAL members. Members of the Regional Team (RT), published and pre-published, are in a position to model kindness for all their members.

A thought for an RA to ponder, one we could discuss among ourselves, is how the “E” of exclusion impacts the “E” of effectiveness. Our regions serve a wide range of highly creative, independent thinkers. Does each one feel encouraged to participate and free to express concerns? How can the RA tap into the energy of all the members?

ENERGY

To conserve this “E” Factor, take the V in Volunteer and turn it upside down. It looks like a pyramid. The RA is at the top. From the bottom tier up, each volunteer has someone to report to or look to for advice. At the top of the pyramid, the RA knows what is happening, but the RA is not caught up in the tasks of every level because no workers have been asked or trained to handle the jobs that need to be done.

RA with e modifiedConsider every volunteer role as a training opportunity for the next job. It’s easy to let one person handle the same job every year, but if you are the RA who encourages members to try a variety of jobs, you should be able to delegate tasks to people who can be counted upon. YOU set up their training. Note the double ee’s in volunteer. What kind of e’s are showing up in your pyramid? How can you use them?

As RAE’s, we’ve met many “e’s.”  From a distance the tough ones don’t look so ominous. Maybe we’ve gained a bit of perspective. Luckily for all of us, there is a good E and it’s there from the first day we become part of the RT.

EACH OTHER

This is all of US. We keep getting better at listening to each other’s problems, sharing our experiences, and helping forge solutions. I’ve enjoyed a double “e” in rooming at conferences with RA’s from other regions. RA’s from Montana, Kansas, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Alaska have given me the gifts of their experience and expertise.

Our first RA retreat was held at a ranch in Texas. We sat around a large conference table to present our state of the region reports. After the last report was read, Stephanie Gordon, our Regional Advisor Chairperson, looked around the table, took a deep breath, and paused, dramatically. Then she said something like, “Each one of you should be CEO of a corporation.” Forgive me one more set of double ee’s, but I agree.

Reading RAWI entries overwhelms me. I am exceedingly impressed with the talents and abilities of the leaders of our SCBWI regions. To think: you are writers and illustrators, TOO!

The ”E” for all of you is Excellent!

*********

Joan Broerman, a founder and RAE of Southern Breeze and 1998 SCBWI Member of the Year, is writing a YA historical fiction novel in verse.  Her newest project, “Take a Librarian to Lunch” thanks our tireless partners in research. She blogs about children’s books for busy parents, Visit her blog.

Author Jo S. Kittinger, also a founder and RAE of Southern Breeze, received the Crystal Kite for ROSA’S  BUS (Calkins Creek) and the Christopher Medal for THE HOUSE ON DIRTY  THIRD STREET (Peachtree). Her art and photos have appeared in publications, including Highlights for Children.  Visit her here.