Shawn L. Bird

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

writing-conference power February 19, 2019

Filed under: Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:49 pm
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I’m a huge advocate of the writing conference as a crucial key to a writer’s development.  For many years, I thought they were silly and over-priced.  I figured I could learn anything I needed to know by reading books about the writing craft and business.

What I didn’t understand was the importance of connection.  Writers tend to be solitary creatures. Their creativity happens when they’re alone.  Often our friends and family members don’t understand the stress of having to kill off a character we love, or the trauma of maintaining our words per day quota, or the soul-destroying nature of the twelfth (or hundred and twelfth) rejection letter for a project we adore.

Other writers do.

When you sit in a room with other writers, hear their stories, and realize they have the same kind of feelings and experiences you do, you realize you aren’t the only one. You’re not weird! (Well, maybe you are, but it’s probably a good weird, and you realize there are a lot of weirder people and you thoroughly enjoy being in their weird company!).  You feel like you belong.  You listen, you learn, you laugh, and you long for it to last.

Next March I am going to a new conference for me: Creative Ink in Burnaby, BC.  I see that some of my friends from other conferences (Surrey International, When Words Collide in Calgary, Word on the Lake in Salmon Arm) will be there. How great!

If you’re in BC and you’ve never been to a conference, this one is a good price ($80 for the weekend) and has some phenomenal people presenting and attending, so I already know it’s going to be great.  Learn about the craft and business of the writing life.  Share some weird.  Enjoy some fun.  Buy some books.

If you decide to go, tell them I sent you!

Creative Ink is at the Delta Marriott Burnaby, BC  March 29-31, 2019.

 

writing-talent v tenacity February 16, 2019

Filed under: Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:50 pm
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When I’m speaking to new writers, whether they be young or old, I spend time discussing the difference between talent and tenacity.

When you start, you may be discouraged because you see others with greater talent than you, but if you have tenacity, your dedication will develop talent, your resilience will keep you practising, your perseverence at pushing on doors will get you opportunities.  The most talented person who just holes up in a burrow will stagnate if they don’t work with what they’ve got.  So if you WANT it, you need to be tenacious, and eventually, your tenacity will develop your talent, and you will achieve your goals.

So much success in life relies on simply not giving up.

Caitriona Balfe, the actor who plays Claire Randall in Outlander, said some similar regarding making it as an actor, in a recent interview for The Irish Times,

a lot of it is just having the f***ing balls and grit to stick around and be persistent in the face of a lot of rejection. But I think that also comes from having a belief that if [there is] something you love to do so much, something that feels that it comes naturally, that in some way it has to be what you’re meant to do.

That’s it.  As Dory puts it, “Just keep swimming.”

 

poem- push on January 28, 2018

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:28 pm
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We labour in monotonous isolation

Words falling onto pages

magic spells

new worlds

It might be good.

It might be worth sharing.

It might just be,

what it needs to be for us

to set our demons free.

Isolation and monotony,

and then someone

you respect

says

“Such lovely prose!”

or “beautifully wrought characters”

or “Loved it!”

and you think there’s hope

for your imaginary friends

and your imaginary world

and your imaginary dreams.

Labouring becomes inspired

by encouraging analyses.

 

poem-writing July 9, 2016

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:18 pm
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Mysteries unfurled

intertwining worlds

whirling words

life inferred.

 

 

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 http://www.siwc.ca 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.

 

poem-welcome November 17, 2014

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:22 pm
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You came on evening light

uttered soft greetings,

“Tell my tale,” you whispered,

and so begins

another

adventure.

.

.

.

This weekend, as I was drifting off to sleep (see yesterday’s poem), I was introduced to Dustin who wanted to tell me the story of his life with Lydia.  I had not intended to start a new novel (if that’s what this is) before finishing the projects already on my plate, but Dustin was pretty insistent.  So, instead of doing what I planned today on my Sunday off, I lent my fingers to Dustin.  I have no idea where this will lead, but it looks like it will be an interesting journey.

 

 

video- likes authors October 26, 2014

Here’s a Moxy Früvous performance for those spouses whose loved ones always have a nose between pages…

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