Sunday, October 27, 2013

Surrey International Writers Conference

I almost dare not blog about this penultimate event. No doubt massively published writers the world over have penned their experience.
I didn't attend the workshops.  Had I, I'd be a much better writer, no doubt.  I heard one American  leader was teaching how to get 'advances' when 'advances' bring 'sexual harassment' to mind  rather than anything monetary a writer might truly hope for. .  It was indeed a point of humour that one could be a respectable writer in Canada and not earn a living.  Writing has never been as lucrative, here as, say, dog sledding.  There are notable exceptions. But these have more likely gone abroad (or south).Theres  something vaguely suspect, almost un Canadian, about a writer that actually leaves the igloo.
I enjoyed the exhibits.  There were books and publishing companies and printers and paraphernalia.  I actually purchased an Anne Perry bag.  The Indigo bags lacked the  substance  hers had.   I also purchased Jack Whyte's latest book, The Renegade.  He actually sat at the table I'd randomly chosen at lunch.  I told him I'd just read one of his books last year and couldn't remember the name. It turned out to be The Forest Laird, a story of Scotland's Wallace, the precursor to the Renegade about Bruce. I'd also read his Knights Templar series.
So there I was at lunch with a lovely writer from the island and her two friends only to be joined by Jack Whyte. To make this table even more blessed, the great KC Dyer joined us.  I knew her from her dramatic informative presentation one evening at the Canadian Authors Association. One of Canada's foremost young people writers,  her latest book is Seeds of Time.
With these two great writers conversing across from me ,I focussed on the excellent Sheraton fare,  eavesdropping as if I was President  Obama  listening in on the conversations of  Germany's Chancellor and some other world leader.  Jack Whyte not only writes his marvellous historical fiction but sings as well, I learned.
It's actually surprising I heard anything because, when I arrived that morning, I'd found my own book, "Love Between the Sacred and Profane", sitting like the jewel it is on the crown table of  Island Blue printers.  Ben Nuttall-Smith, the President of the BC Federation of Writers had inspired me to put out another poetry book guiding me through the process.
My first poetry book, Caesarian Poems, had been more of a book for friends and family.  Influenced by poets Bernice Lever, Jean Kay and Lilija Valis of the Canadian Authors Association I wanted this book to be something for a broader audience.
Ben is a prolific writer whose published his books in a variety of ways as well as maintaining one of my favourite web pages.  His historical fiction, Blood, Feathers and Holy Men was a fascinating read.   Thanks to him and my assistant Hannah Pagarigan, my book happened. Now a collection of short stories is due for publication in spring.
Ben said it would be kind of like seeing a new born child.  It was. I confess I was mesmerized.  What a source of pride. My chest, not knowing cliche, actually burst (not quite like Sigourney Weaver and Alien, but kind of).  I picked the book up lovingly, from the table and declared aloud, to no one in particular,  this was "my" book.  I danced a jig in my inner world while outwardly maintaining  composure, (except for the silly grin).  
Well, that's why it's quite amazing I heard anyone else thereafter.  I  was surprised I was able to pay  polite attention to those around me. They couldn't possibly know the cost . I did notice though that our table wasn't the only table with published arthurs.  Anthony Dalton , the President of the Canadian Author's Association's table was a sardine can of authors.  As I looked about I saw one famous writer after another lurking here and there.  Some were stuffing the tasty Sheraton cookies into their jackets or skirt pockets, leftover habits from leaner years.  I learned that my Ed Griffin was a cofounder of the Surrey Writer's Festival. Just as I love Anthony's travel adventure writing I love Ed Griffins prison stories.
The workshop and key notes speakers were a list of whose who in writing.  KC Dyer was wearing a Michael Slade pin from his workshop.  I had the Anne Perry's bag.  My neighbour had Diana Gabaldon's latest book.
Bruce Hale was the luncheon speaker.  I loved his talk. Not surprising he's a children's writer. He had a joyful presence that so appeals to children.  He told how his first Chet Gecko book had followed a series of rejection letters. He learned to qualify rejection letters from never touched by human hand to a not so rejecting rejection letter.  His principle encouragement was perseverance. He encouraged writers to connect as well.  He began with an exercise of having each person contact another who they'd call in a week to report their writing progress. He humorously told of his own 'accountability' partner and how much he wrote the night before the call was due.  At the end he sang an uptempo delightful inspiring song about persevering when publishers don't respond.  It had everyone laughing and singing along.  A WAVE formed in the audience  and several participants held up lit lighters.  It was a great way to end a conference with everyone enthusiastic and motivated.
I talked to Carol Tulpar later.  She'd loved the conference which was helping her progress with her present book.
I'm now sitting here with boxes of my own books.     Now the book launch. Thank you all those organizers of the SIWC (  It was a great day of a conference. Next year I must attend the whole workshop.  
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

when your with giants you feel like your one too

they inspire you to do better