Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Canadian Authors Association, West Coast Branch, Jan. 9, 2013

CAA West Coast Branch Jan 9, 2013

Outside the Howe Streets Arts Alliance Building a lone cherub, forgotten after the Christmas nativity scenes, was being escorted down from the buildings roof by fully clothed members of the Vancouver Fire Department. These same men had posed naked for global warming charity calendars. The cherub, however,  refused to hand over Bryan Adam's WC Bennet autographed guitar, until he personally touched Sarah McLaughlan. Sarah's dog, growling,  was defending his brilliant mistress from this  overgrown Canada Goose. God, sitting across the street in the BC Courts, would have smote the cherub there and then were it not for lawyer Jesus pleading the case for mercy The over heated judge took a belated polar bear swim just as millions of sticks of fireworks, long thought rain damaged, ignited with dry wit over English Bay. As rainbow lights filled the sky, Emily Carr belly laughed and the Mountain Lions roared. The Vancouver Police dressed in riot gear stood three thick on Howe Street beating their shields in iambic pentameter.

Inside the Arts Alliance Hall thousands of writers cheered as Margo Bates, dressed in the latest black ninja writer wear, accepted the ancient Eagle feather stylus carbon tested to be at least 50000 years old. She was officially the new President of the West Coast Chapter of the Canadian Author's Associaton. As a wee tear glistened  her cheek she rallied and called forth the newly elected board members.

Jean Kay - Treasurer stood up and shouted "I'm a poet and I've written a poem every day for 15 years." A hush filled the room. Birthday cards and wedding cards stood up at Hallmark.
Bernice Lever - Writer in Residence - unabashedly admitted " I'm a poet and I help people get published.!" You could hear the drool splash as unpublished writers salivated to her words.
Dennis E. Bolen, a truly swashbucklering presence, stated "I'm the Member at Large and this is my 3rd year with CAA." Without a hint of shame he went on to say "I've been writing and publishing for 30 years, I've published several books, and now I'm reviewing books for VAncouver Sun." Writers young and old threw themselves at his feet crying out 'please review me' as all about the colosseum thumbs were raised.
Anne Helps stood proudly at that very moment , "I am the writers circle contact... I did a lot of non fiction government writing and editting (no one booed) , then took up fiction writing, and now I'm a member of 6 member fiction writers groups (everyone cheered).
Joyce Goodwin, attractively accented, made history, "I'm a member at large and I've been on this executive before, as membership chair, writer's circle chair, program committee. I write poetry and memoirs."
I, William Hay, said I too was a Member at Large  and admitted to having previously published many magazine articles.  Recently I'd become addicted to blogging, and was considering Bloggers Anonymous.  I felt utterly liberated. When no one was looking, though, I returned to blogging and shared secret winks with the many other closet bloggers in the room.
Grant Brandson - secretary - stood tall. saying "I've written short articles for Pacific Yachting and now I'm writing on the Regiment". Sabers were drawn in salute as a dozen white horses in parade dress whinnied.
Robert W. Mackay, now the Past President stood and humbly stated - "My main claim to fame was being president of this organization for 2 1/2 years" It was glorious time. (BC Symphony Orchestra music rose to a crescendo) "I had to fill the big shoes of Margaret Hume our Past Past President. I have one award winning historical novel, Soldier of the Horse, published and a new work on the submariner coming out in 2014." Margo Bates shared then that Bob last year had also been awarded the Queen's Jubilee Medal for his work with Canadian Navy."

Don Cherry with the News Cast from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation shared the upcoming announcements:
 Feb. 14 - open mike March - panel discussion,
March - Ian Weir former reporter, screen play writer, play writer, Irene Cook, 8 best sellers with Simon and Shuster, Margaret Hume, memoir - panel moderator Dennis Bolen - crossing boundaries - writing in different genres.
April 10 - Susan Juby - young adult night writer. - "Bernice, Susan and I were born in northern BC. Susan and I write about the north. We can't get it out of our system. Susan was Miss Smithers and I was Legion Valentines Queen in Terrace ", said Margo.

North by Northwest is looking for someone to interview about Pride and Predjudice.
Bernice looking for help with the fiction contest.
Hugh won the last contest with his Scottish Canadian adventure.
Margo is looking for someone to help with media announcements and facebook, maybe 3 hours of time a month.

The Vancouver Opera concluded the announcements with a brief interlude then Margo stated that it was time for "STAND AND DELIVER" , a ten minute spot for members to read from their work. A group of Haida Indian Elders beat drums while Kwakiutl dancers moved about the audience.

 "I'm trying it out tonight." Margo said, "I recommend it as it 's a fun thing to do." Margot is actually working on a  book set at funerals. The publisher had to include a disclaimer that it was not responsible if the book turned out so successful it was a "killer".

Robert Mackay introduced Margo Bates saying she's the author of "PS Don't Tell Your Mother", also poet, photographer, Irma Brombeck alumni, .... CAA President, locally but also on national executive, ....and she's a darn good cook.'

Hundreds of candles were lit by thousands of writers who now sat sat reverently in lotus posture.   Margo began to read,  'funerals are taking on a life of their own....." 10 minutes later amidst laughter and awe Margot concluded.

Stepping down from STAND And DELIVER,  she turned smiling to the mysterious man. "Now we have Mr. Allan Twigg- Allan Twigg, (Horns sounded and trumpets blared.)
Allan Twigg has a really interesting bio - He's written 16 books, ,,,,,,,,has organized 2 university symposia.....is founder and publisher of BC Bookworld,,,,ABC ...has many distinguished awards.....book publisher media award.... First writer in Residence, Belize (my fingers simply could not  keep up with the ticker tape adulations that flashed across the night sky)

Allan Twigg himself, in person, finally spoke (these are my rough notes that really only capture a taste of the caviar of wisdom he presented this night)

 "I make my living by publishing this newspaper and try to be useful to the society I live in. ...that's what I aspire to....in the newspaper and website about BC authors I try to do that....what now ....why would you come out on Wed....probably you're interested in some advancement of your own writing passion......something I might say may help you along.....however I know nothing...I'm like Shutlz...I know nothing....I live in a little world and never aspired to get beyond the Rocky Mountains and the further I get the less far i want to go....the last book I published in 2 years was for 1 reader,  I published 2 books, one for me and one for this other person....I'm going backwards....from going to 200, 2000 20,000 readers or 2 million....it doesn't matter , your life is still the same life."

"That I can tell you something about the publishing world in the snakes and ladders of life, you might think,  maybe I can give you a new little ladder, but I'm going in the other direction....I can answer questions to satisfy your curiosity......my life has been spent investigating here"

"I had some pretty good teachers in high school.  One teacher had all the pictures of great writers on the wall, Thackeray, Shakespeare....but no one said that all these writers were 'english and dead'.... it takes a while to unravel that there's a hierarchy.  At first it's 'english and dead' and then maybe 'american and dead' and then English and living and American and living and then maybe ontario living....there was only 2 writers here in BC....you realize then you're not even a rung on the ladder....my life has been a radical unlearning of this hiearchy"

"There are 10 000 writers in BC that have contributed to writing here but when I grew up I only knew 3. "

"In this half a life time there's this radicallness... This writer Anne (?) who lived and wrote here in  1938 said they put the Rocky Mountain there so only the very bright could get beyond that....the majority of people were born  somewhere else....how do you build a society when everyone is an immigrant,....this odd place....the western end of the migration"

"There was this Robert's Creek writer, shell shock from war in Europe who wanted to get away from there...knew there was an idealism here and needed to get away from those strict heirarchacal institutions"

 "125 years ago where you was sitting was rocks and trees."

" What a strange place where we can invent new ideas and live outside the box....this western outpost of experimentalism is something that others don't have"

 "We read more books per capita than anywhere else"

 "We're on the outside....this outsider position makes us more interesting."

 "As I grew up I became less interested in what happened in England, I read a lot of Russian and German but realized what we have here is quite special....you can complain .....Quill cover hasn't had a BC writer in years.....I don't care about the Giller prize" "I wanted to hold up a mirror to those who write here.....you write a book here and it's cultural news....if people get killed on Robson Street it  is reported as news but the news reported in books is a deeper spiritual news.....a crude analogy I use....if you are an explorer in Borneo and there are headhunters there and you pull out a mirror and people with minimal technology look at the mirror,  they get very excited....I'm trying to hold up a mirror here, saying this is who we are...it may not sound radical but when all the media power centers are somewhere else,  it is radical."

 "Raincoat Chronicles  chronicles of the west coast."

 "We're so conditioned however to gettng our news from elsewhere that we think who wins the Giller prize is more important....bullshit... There's Toronto and Vancouver - this place (Vancouver)  is only a hundred years old, so we have very little power...we have to say we're interesting , we're new.....that 's why I built ABC Book World Reference site because people get invisibilized here." "After 10 years there's 10 000 writers and you go, I guess everybody exists now."

"With the conglomeration of media.....McIntyre was about Hubris, the sky isn't falling....everyone else has filled in....all the efficient BC companies are doing fine....it's a good object lesson to be true to where you are.....Canadian Owned companies in British Columbia, the sales volume or number of books, how you wnat to measure it, now equal the publishers in Ontario because the Ontaria publishers got sucked into the Hierarchies, americans...the merged...there's nothing left in Ontario....I suspect the BC publishing houses who have a collegial output, they actually help each other,  who started in 70's have sustained themselves despite having only 13% of the population in BC.  We are more stable even though Ontario gets tons of money and we don't.  But we're a stable publishing society."

 "If you're wondering how to be a famous person in New York, well it's just fine to be a famous person here and I'm glad to be an ambassador for that." "It's why I do this, though I could do alot of other things ...but I'm a 5th generation Vancouverite, no merit in that,  but a strange psychological underpinning....I'm interested in making other BC writers feel worthy.....if you want to silence really intelligent people here you ask who was the first president of US, they answer  Washington.... first prime minister of Canada maybe John A Macdonald....but nobody knows the first BC Premier was McCrate."

 "I just read a book on Juan de Fuca strait.  Every time I heard there was wind warning in the strait I never knew who he was....that he was a spaniard....and he as an old man in Venice.....met this Englishman in late 1500's....he told the Englishman  about this inland passage...they were looking for northwest passage....Lock writes this letter to England....there's this spire of rock there in the Strait and in 1500 Juan de Fuca wrote about the spire,  200 later, explorers go looking for the Northwest Passage there  ... because there's supposed to be this opening....and there's the spire of rock that Juan de Fuca described 200 years before so Barkeley names it Juan de Fuca Strait  because obviously he'd been there  first." "You read this and wow, you want to know"

"The first person who came wasn't Cook but Jaun ... he.encountered Haida, and then though the spanish got here first, it becomes British Coumbia so they erase the spanish part and keep the British parts....then you wonder why you didn't learn any of this in school and then you realize that everyone is kind of dumb"

"So even your books if they're psychological, and not just geographical, this place is going to rub off on you....we are in a privileged place.... I'm quite satisfied telling people that we're in a place different from most other places on the planet....our publishing industry is pretty successful... this newspaper written about the books of this people are read by more than any other ....it's got to do with the appetite of the people here....we live in a very interesting place....we don't need someone from somewhere else to tell us."

"If you want to be powerful, you have to go to a power centres....there are power centres London, New York, Los Angels...if you want to be rich and famous you have to go to those power centre....if you stay here you aren't going to be rich and famous....so you can save your self grief...if you're wondering why you're not rich and famous here.....if you read about these people and want to be rich and famous you're in the wrong place,  but its better  here than Prince George, you can think.   H?ow many Prince George authors do you know.....either you want to be the next Steven King....how many readers do you need to think what you're writing is important.....I've gone back to one."

 "I was a library trustee and I wanted to see if I could be an influence but there's so many people with interest in this futuristic technology.....it's profit margin that's driving the ebook industry not the public desire....now the music industry has crashed....consumers knew it only cost the companies half a cent and charging 10 dollars ....people pirated....same will happen with books....but more (paper)  books are being published and people want to write a book and are reading books....ebooks are pure efficiency and profit....but I don't care ....if you write a book you want to hold it in your hand just like readers do"

"The ABC public reference site gets a thousand people a day, don't think it's the same as reading the ABC newspaper for 2 hours or having it in your house for 2 weeks" "I'm so priviledged to do what I do....every day I learn something....I'm amazed...I get to be a smart person by osmoses....I might say I didn't read Ben Nuttall Smith's book to the very end but I read enough of it to know it was a very good book....I'm beating myself up (because I can't read it all)  I am humbled by the amount of stuff out there....I know how much stuff is out there....society doesn't know..... "

"I lead more of a monkish life....I have a very private life... I don't go out and fraternize alot....I organize events but I myself lead a very private life."
 "I get a lot of emails I have to deal with....I don't mind that.....I'm a hyper efficient person....it startles me how most people are sincere....I can tell in a nano second whose worth my time and will talk an hour on the phone with someone." "It's an issue but in reality I'm empowered by getting to know all these people.....knowing what they do....the majority of people are very good."

 "Nobody knows me...I have three or four people in my life....I 'm not out rubbing shoulders with people....I know them from their books...it's nice when you don't have to know them more sometimes" 

"We have pictures of thousands of authors. I have a superficial sense of knowing everyone. I might identifiy them and know what they wrote."

 "ABC Book world - I thought what  could I do useful  on the internet - I'd pick up Oxford Guide to Canadian Literature and it would piss me off....I thought I'd not invisibilize writers in British Columbia."

"Then I became interested in what happened before I was here, back in the 30's and such....when I learn something I dump it on the site....after 10 years of doing that.....like I'll find a little book on Atlin BC written in 1929 , I 'll stick up the title and name and maybe later I'll know more...but now I can push a button and it's there....if I want all the cook books written in BC, I've coded them and 300 books will come up....as a search engine it's incredible.....say you're interested in Sasquatch, instead of searching by the author, you search sasquatch and it will bring up every book written in BC....I've coded them...I enjoy that....it's an encyclopedia of what we know about British Columbia."

 "Winnie the Pooh inspired me when I was wrong. My mother read me this bizarre Charles Kingsley's Water Babies, bizarre, but exciting as a kid. They enlivened my sense of literature....my grandfather was a writer....like way some people can play violin....in some degree writing is an inborn talent like some people can sing opera and some can't - I've always enjoyed writing....remember at 5 making up poems.....I'm not a story teller, can't tell jokes....think writing is something like that and I think everyone in this room knows what I'm talking about....you'll be a writer if you can't not be a writer....it's not a choice....how you do it ....doesn't really matter...if you like bird watching, you watch birds."

 "If someone came to me (to ask how to become a writer) I'd say get a job in the Williams Lake reporter or the Terrace Newspaper, write it up and next day you know the people know what you're writing about ....be a hockey writer, because in Terrace there's 500 hockey writer experts....I can think of no better training ground that writing for a local newspaper....you're useful and I can think of no more humbling important learning tool.....writing for a little newspaper would be my choice of how to learn to write."

 "The only paper I read is Guardian which (recently had this article about) this thing we call ar, (what is it about us humans)  that make cave drawings.....that we write...that makes us do this that animals don't.....there's food, sex and art, it's right up there....people can't live without art....it's fascinating why art is so much bigger."

"Only lately have I begun to consider architecture and how architecture affects our psych....go to Cuba and see these horrible buildings the soviets build....some of our buildings in Vancouver are so terrible too....people think it's such a great city.....but so many of our buildings are awful."

 "Art is fundamental and writing is certainly an art form. Writing is underappreciated as an art form. I tore a strip off City Hall.. .We'll bring in writers from other places and see them, people from Toronto but BC Book World can't get a penny....so I looked into the thing....the prejudice against writing....the amount of budget that goes to literary art compared to music, painting is 1 %.....we have writing festivals which aren't even festive because writing is a private activity....it doesn't have a spectacle attached to it....so we have some person reading it out loud and I'd rather read in bed than listen to this....literature is always the poor sister....they'd rather give $40,000 to some dance group that dresses up as peanut butter cups."

 "When you go to Paris you go to louvre and you also go to where the famous writers lived. You go to Ireland and they revere their writers. When you see how much money is poured into BC film industry it's millions of times what 's been given to writers.  The contributions of books to culture, though is a thousands times more. Just looking at the  First Nations, were it not for the books written by First Nations about their own culture, it wouldn't be what it is today. The literature of BC has done more for the culture of BC than all the art forms together."

" Most of the books stores have small staffs and are very efficient and it's amazing they are surviving. Without the bookstore they're going to have to start selling to the reader directly....perhaps BC Bookworld will be the site because when I attach a link to the publisher you may be able to press a button and buy the book directly.....I don't know how the bookstores are surviving....it's a dire situation. We say we're  this world class city but one day we may not have a book store."

"Increasingly I get every day a self publisher telling me about their book....maybe 10 years a go it was a whacko person, but now they're very interesting....the idea that a trade book publish is superior is ridiculous now....the trade is understaffed ....trying to deal with books they did and books they want to do....how much attention can you give to a single book,  (when you're trying to get enough books published ) to get  your Canada Council grant....if a private person is passionately interested they're out their flogging their book .... many of the trade books were much like vanity press too because they were paid for by somebody.....increasingly you have to be more open minded....it's a bit hypocritical....I look at a self published book but if somebody says they published an ebook and there's no book, I m not interested because any whacko can put out ebook."

 "I had a brain surgery thing and I'm fine now but I wrote a book of poetry then about that ."

 "I wrote something once about scientists having yet to discover the source of the excretion of optimism....how is it we're so weirdly optimistic about living."

 Writers all over British Columbia put down their pens and lap tops and stand up to cheer when Allan Twigg walks into a room. The audience tonight was no different. Applauding uproariously they spilled out onto Howe Street where the Vancouver Police Riot Squad acted quickly.

God pardoned the cherub. Two men were seen walking on water beside a bathtub returning to Nanaimo. On Wreck Beach the naked wrote words  in the sand.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Wow, Bill, you must have been typing for the whole 2 hours. Good synopsis, and good to see you there. Welcome to the executive

Bob Mackay said...

Holy smoke, those fingers were flying!