This week, Anita Loughrey interviews Rita Borg who joined SCBWI in 1998.

My husband suggested I should join SCBWI. I didn’t have my own computer back then, so I had not heard about SCBWI. I have now been a member of SCBWI for over 20 years. I always wanted to be a writer, but after the birth of my youngest I decided to try and make my dream come true.

I live in Malta. Most children’s writers on the island do not write in English. Joining SCBWI allowed me to belong to a group of likeminded people, with whom I can share worries, ideas and manuscripts. I needed to learn not just about the craft of writing, but also how to write for the book market. Everything was new to me.

I wish I could volunteer more to the group, but the distance with most of the group means I cannot do as much as I would like. As far as I know, I am the only member living in Malta. However, I have helped with critiquing manuscripts and forming critique groups.

SCBWI has helped me meet so many people who share my passion for writing. I am convinced it has been pivotal to develop my writing talent and mostly gave me the courage to say, “I am a writer”. If it wasn’t for SCBWI, I wouldn’t have all my writer friends. Seeing them succeed in publishing more books is so wonderful!

SCBWI's best thing ever is the annual conference. I wish it wasn’t in the winter, but it is such a delight meeting everyone, catching up and really learning about the nuts and bolts of writing in such a fantastic atmosphere. The conference is very useful to know where you can send your work. I never knew that I could write poetry or thought of myself as a poet, until Jane Clarke told us delegates where to send poetry, during a picture book course. I got published with Bloomsbury because of Jane!

Over the past two years, I have been busy reading for a BA in English Literature as an online undergraduate with London University ... another long-term ambition. This has meant that I have not been involved with SCBWI as much as I would have liked. I cannot wait to graduate and have more time for SCBWI activities. Being so far from the rest of the group, it would be great if technology could help me to sit in with some groups that go on all the time. Teleconferencing is nowadays so easy. I try to come to London as often as I can, but airline tickets and hotels are not cheap. There really should be some way that far-away members like myself can participate more actively in these meetings and within the group.

* All photos credited to Rita Borg.

Anita Loughrey is SCBWI's Membership Coordinator. Anita writes fiction for all ages, graphic novels, audio books, teacher resources, educational fiction, non-fiction and creative non-fiction on a wide variety of subjects for a wide range of publishers. She has over 85 books published in the UK and many more worldwide. She also writes two regular double-page spreads for the national writing magazine Writers’ Forum and teaches creative writing.

You can find out more about Anita Loughrey on her website and on her blog. Or follow her on Twitter @amloughrey and Instagram @anitaloughrey

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