Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Writers’ Festival musings May 17, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:27 pm
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I’m home after 3 days of hanging out with talented writers, still-not-acknowledging-they’re-writers-but-wishing-to-be, and lots of lovely volunteers, readers, and so on that fill a writers’ festival’s workshops and events.

If you have never attended a writing festival, here’s what goes on at the best of them, in my experience:

  • lots of talking to others at various stages of the writing journey
  • celebrations of writing successes
  • envy of writing successes
  • dreaming of writing successes
  • strategies to develop confident approaches to one’s work
  • strategies to be a stronger writer
  • strategies for selling one’s work
  • opportunities to gain feedback on one’s writing through ‘blue pencil’ sessions
  • inspiration to take the risk of submitting one’s work
  • inspiration to finish projects
  • laughter
  • empty pockets due to book purchases
  • joy at growing one’s signed book collection

A few years ago, Sylvia Taylor told me that the writing life is about reaching down and reaching up.  We share what we’ve learned and pull someone just beginning up to greater skill and confidence.  We sit at the feet of masters and are stretched to grow a little more.  A conference is a great source for this.

Sometimes, conferences yield contracts.  (Surrey is particularly good for this).

Usually, conferences yield contacts.  New friends and introductions to publishers/agents/editors are not uncommon.

If you haven’t been to a conference, take the leap.  There is something for all levels to learn.  At the very least, being with ‘your tribe’ is a wonderful thing.  Who else can relate to your habit of writing all night?  (Charles De Lint, Diana Gabaldon, and I all write after midnight.  We’re not alone!)  Who else can appreciate the voices in your head that you need to record?  Who else can offer tips and suggestions to move your project along?  Who else appreciates the significance of a ‘send the full manuscript’ in response to a query?  Who else really knows about this mystical journey to make worlds out of nothing but imagination and words?  Where else do you belong?

I took a few things out of this year’s Word on the Lake.  I attended a workshop by Anne De Grace on Writing Critique Groups.  I have wished to be part of such a group for a long time, but hadn’t formulated the vision.  This gave me concrete ideas.  I kept my eyes open, and approached the first person I thought would also find value in such a group and be an asset.  She agreed.  So we will keep our eyes open for a third, and see where it goes.


18 Responses to “Writers’ Festival musings”

  1. narble Says:

    Writing and writers. Truly a community with the mindset that everybody wins. It’s about attitude and craft and luck and patience and giving back what you’ve been given.

  2. Festivals are the finest way to bring oneself into focus-even more so than holing up in a bed-and-breakfast, or cottage on a lake.

  3. ellenbest24 Says:

    You have convinced me to look for one that I can explore; in England. U.K.
    I hear you say that beginners get listened to and helped… I will report back.
    Thank you.

    • I know a couple of British writers. I’ll see if they have one to recommend. Stay tuned!

      • ellenbest24 Says:

        I am in the west country, Somerset. You are very kind thank you for trying for me. They sound good fun.

      • My author friend Carol Mason, a British ex-pat living in Vancouver (whom I met at a Writing Conference!) is checking for you. She wonders what genre you’re interested in?

        So far I’ve found a rather exhaustive site: but which of those is particularly recommended may be the key to success!

      • ellenbest24 Says:

        Huge! Great link. I hate picking genre’s but not horror, detective, of scifi, everything else is a go . Truthfully i probably read all of them , and write in most of them, in fact if they have configurations of the alphabet laid in a special reading pattern … pass me a spoon, *licks lips slurp! *

      • Truthfully, the best fiction crosses genres, so if you can integrate them, you can reach more people. The adage is “Write what you’d like to read,” so find that character who’s talking in your head and drop him/her into a historical, fantastic, romantic, adventurous mystery (looking at what’s left from your ‘not list’) 🙂 and have fun with it!

      • ellenbest24 Says:

        Link pinned saved and will be utilised. Thanky you Shwan. 😇

      • Hope it gets you to an inspiring place!

  4. Joanne Corey Says:

    You make a writing festival sound so inviting, perhaps I will try one someday!

    Best wishes on your fledging critique group. I am blessed to have joined one last August and it has made a huge difference in the strength of my poems. I am the novice in the group, but the other poets have been welcoming and I have been able to give them feedback, despite my inexperience. I am gearing up to do literary journal submissions for the first time in a couple of years. Anything under a 100% rejection rate will be an improvement. 😉 I would expect that you would not find a critique group quite as dramatic a tool as I have, but I’m sure it will still be a boon.

    • Everything I hear about these groups is positive, providing one is in a group that fits. I’m intrigued that yours is poetry specific. I’m pleased to hear they’ve given you the confidence to submit to journals.

      • Joanne Corey Says:

        Of course, because you write novels as well as poetry, it would make sense for you to have a group that can handle different forms. What forms of writing does your first partner do?

      • The only thing we’ve discussed (a few years ago) was a non-fiction book, but who knows!

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