#scbwicon15 - Friendship and Support.

Susan Brownrigg

The Margaret Carey Scholarship for Fiction winner, Susan Brownrigg, tells us about her conference experience. Susan's is a very personal and brave story and reminds that SCBWI is a unique organisation that offers members opportunity, support and friendship in this very special network.

When Words & Pictures asked for volunteers to write an article about attending the conference, I offered to help. I was delighted to win the Margaret Carey Scholarship for fiction and it was the least I could do as a way of saying thank you for such an amazing opportunity.
I'm going to write about friendship

I was to share what I enjoyed most about the conference – what I would take away from it. I was expecting to write about the fantastic workshops, the keynote speeches, the useful crit, a 1:1, the fun meal out and the pirate party. But instead I’m going to write about friendship. 

I have been attending the North West SCBWI network since early this year and was welcomed by the group. The MG/PB crit group has helped me improve my writing and a few of us have agreed to be beta readers. I was pleased to know some of the group would be at the conference and was hoping I might see them at some of the sessions. 

Practice Your Pitch

I arrived in Winchester on Friday and went to the Practice your Pitch workshop, Crit and the evening meal. I made some new friends at these events and was looking forward to the rest of the weekend. 

Very sadly back at the hotel I received some awful news – my dog, Flash, had been attacked on his walk by another dog. My husband rushed him to the vet – but despite their best efforts it was decided he should be put to sleep. I was devastated. 

I wanted to go home, but it just wasn’t practical, and my family wanted me to stay. They know how much writing means to me and they knew what an opportunity attending the conference was. 

After a long, sleepless night I decided I would stay. 

Story Structure with Candy Gourlay

My friends rallied round, they gave me hugs, made sure I ate a little something at breakfast, walked with me to the conference and listened and offered condolences. Without them I’m pretty sure I’d have been on the first train home. 

I have learned so much from the workshops, talks and 1:1 I attended and have so many ideas on how to improve my current manuscript. And despite being heartbroken you will see pictures of me at the conference smiling. I danced when David Fickling told us to, I even put on my whale dress and went to the party. 

My husband and mum picked me up on Sunday afternoon. It was very emotional going home. We talked a lot about Flash, but I also told them about the conference and my hopes for the future. 

I would heartily recommend the conference to anyone thinking of going next year, and I really hope to be there myself. 

The North West SCBWI Group

SCBWI is a very special organisation but the people who are in it are the most special bit.


  1. Thank you Susan for sharing your very personal and touching story. SCBWI is a wonderful network of friends and support. Sending you hugs and condolences x

  2. Sorry about the loss of your darling. Am reading and crying. Love. Nice article. Take care.

  3. You were brilliant and brave and we were so happy that you stayed and still managed to get something from the weekend. Big hugs xxx

    1. Thanks George for the nice comment and all the hugs :)

  4. I'm so sorry Susan. A moving article.

  5. I'm so sorry to hear about your tragic loss, and yet so reassured to hear of the support you received. A very sad tale that brings tears to my eyes. Much love x

  6. I am so sorry to hear your sad news. Our furry friends leave such huge holes in our lives when they leave and, to have Flash snatched away so suddenly with no chance to say goodbye, must make it extra tough. I'm really pleased you found friendship and support at conference. I hope Flash finds a new home in one of your stories in years to come.

    1. Thank you. Flash was such a character I'm sure he will have a big influence on any dog stories I write x

  7. I'm so sorry, what an awful thing to happen, and i'm completely in awe of you being brave and staying. Plus, congratulations on the scholarship.

  8. Like George said it was a brave decision to stay and I am so glad it turned out to be the right decision. Here's to Flash and friendship x

    1. Thanks for your support especially the hugs Marie x


We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.