Sunday, 26 April 2015

Why Attend A Writer's Conference?

Throughout my life I have written many things. Short stories, a little poetry, letters, journals, professional reports, magazine articles, blog posts and finally a novel. Sometimes, the words just spill out over the paper, filling the white space with my thoughts. Sometimes, just a few words are enough to express what is in my heart.

A few months ago, I saw an announcement; registration was open for the Ontario Writer's Conference. I hesitated. Am I a writer? Do I belong in a place like that, with the folks who have been writing longer, with more dedication, and with more acclaim? Isn't a writer's conference for those who have published their work? The folks who work at writing full time and maybe make some money at it.

As I read the website, I could see that in fact all writers are welcome. Master classes are offered by seasoned authors, and seminars are available on topics of interest to all levels of writer. It looked like all levels were welcome, so I registered.

My schedule this spring allowed me to attend the Saturday program. I am so glad I did!


I met other people who love writing and playing with words as much as I do. As Anne MacLachlan suggested during her seminar, I found some of my tribe by hanging out in a place where they would too.

I realized that I AM a writer. The same is true of my fellow conference attendee who loves to write but hasn't made time for it recently, the colleague who has mainly written non-fiction and promotional materials so far but has some other projects in mind, and the editor who doesn't have time to write while the call is answered to improve the writing of others.

I learned that I am doing some things well, and I have other areas I can develop. Allyson Latta's editing tips were enlightening and reinforced the lessons learned during my recent, excellent experience with Firefly Creative Writing.

I met other people who understand the power of sharing our stories. When we tell our truth we allow others to know they are not alone. Although this life can be hard, there is hope. I was inspired by the writers in the room with important stories to tell.

I listened to beautiful, moving, inspirational words spoken by Wayson Choy, Linden MacIntyre and Paula Todd. From three unique perspectives I receive the same message: Writing Matters. My writing matters.

If you are wondering whether you are ready to attend a writer's conference, my experience suggests the answer is a resounding YES! No matter where you are in your writing journey a writer's conference is a great place to be if you love to write.

Monday, 20 April 2015

What's A Writer to Do?

Last week I submitted my first fiction novel for consideration by a publishing company. In about 6 months I will hear from them whether they like my story and how I tell it.

What's a writer to do in the meantime? Write some more, of course.

I have a bunch of ideas bubbling, as usual. The trick is to choose the project that will grab my attention, and hold it. The one I will love enough to keep going when life as the working mom of four kids makes it easy to drop writing from my "to do" list. The idea that will wake me up in the night from time to time with ideas for moving it forward whenever I have a spare moment.

I picked up a copy of the 2015 Writer's Market. I have had copies of this reference book in the past. I took a distance writing course at one time and explored the idea of submitting some magazine articles or querying a book idea. Somehow, I didn't get around to it. I was busy. I was also afraid. I didn't have an idea that captured my enthusiasm enough to keep going through thick and thin.

Things have changed in my life. I'm still busy. I'm still afraid. Somehow though, I have found at least one idea that captured my enthusiasm and enough of my love and attention to see it through to submission.

This recent accomplishment has me sifting through my new resource (the 94th annual edition!) with an eye to possibilities. As I consider my ideas, and I examine the many options offered in this volume, I know I will find the right project to tackle next. The one that will have me overcoming challenges and facing my fears as I see it through.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

#amwriting Allow me to introduce myself...

I have been back at creative writing for about three years now.  Writing was a joy in my childhood, something I did for fun.  Writing was therapy in my adolescence, something I did to help sift through the agonizing emotional upheaval.

Creative writing was lost to me for a while in the obstacle course of life.  Between essay writing for University courses, the grind of professional report writing, and time consuming child-rearing tasks I did not make much time to write.  My dad encouraged me to write, and gave me a beautiful set of journals one year for my birthday.  There was simply never time and energy to write. So I thought.

Just over 5 years ago, my dad passed away at age 65.  He had already been ill a long time.  Watching his decline offered me the opportunity to reconsider my own priorities in life.  Surely at age 55, newly retired and enjoying his hobbies, he did not envision that he would have only 5 short years of good health to enjoy it all.

My grade 8 teacher visited the funeral home to offer his condolences.  His words still ring in my ears: "Tell me you are doing something with your writing.  You must do something with your writing."

It would be another two years before I finished with the chaos of my master's degree program and began to write creatively again.  Now, I can't imagine how I lived without it for so long.

For three years, I have worked on my first novel.  I have written in the parents' waiting areas during horseback riding lessons, theater rehearsals and football practices. I have written late at night and early in the morning.  I have written with background noise provided by whooping and hollering children as they play in the pool on a hot summer day.  I have written in the solitude of our trailer on beautiful fall days.

My first draft is complete, I have received editing feedback and made revisions.  I am almost ready to submit my work.  I am almost ready for the possibilities of acceptance, or rejection.

Then, I can start working on my next novel.  The one that was half formed in November during NaNoWriMo and sits patiently waiting for my returned attention.