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…

.

.

 

 

reading-5 ways to help an author August 12, 2014

Filed under: Reading,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:45 am
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Most of a publishing house’s marketing budget goes to its most popular, A-list authors.  You know: the ones least in need of the promotion.  If you have found a mid-list or new author whose work you enjoy, you can become a crucial, and very appreciated, part of his/her success.  What’s more, your enthusiasm may encourage him/her to keep writing!  Here’s how.

1. Leave honestly positive reviews everywhere you can:  Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, your library, iBooks.  Tell people what you really liked about the book’s characters, themes, setting, style, and the genre on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else you can think of.  Reviews are key for a new reader to take a risk on an unknown author.

2. Tell your friends!  If you have a friend who likes the genre, recommend the book.  But, do the author a favour.  If your friends read romance, don’t recommend a horror book, because it will probably lead to a one star review somewhere.  Some people shouldn’t read the book.  The more often someone sees a name, the more likely they are to eventually pick it up, so talk about the book on social media, and link to the author’s profile.

3. Submit a book acquisition request at your local library.  This can often be done on your library’s website.  When the book is in, take it out, and encourage your friends to take it out.  Personally recommend the book to strangers in the library.  If you see it hiding on the shelf, turn it facing out, or set it on a table where it will catch the eye of someone who might otherwise not notice it.

4. Offer to be part of the author’s street team or to be a beta reader for future projects.  You may get early release copy of future books in exchange for your review.  There may be other perks, like a mention in the acknowledgements of the author’s next book.  If you’re doing the 5 things on this list, the author would love to know who you are, so be sure to introduce yourself on social media.

5. Give the book as a gift!  Buy several copies of the book to share with people you think would love it like you do.  If you know the author, get the book signed for your friends or relatives.  Author signed books are cool birthday or Christmas gifts.  If you are far away, some authors (like me!) will mail you signed book plates to put into your copy or are on Authorgraph so you can download a pdf.

It’s all about sharing the book love!  

 

poem- doorbell June 17, 2014

Sleeping in

enjoying dream embraces

of a book boyfriend when

the doorbell rings

with delivery of the next instalment

in the relationship.

 

 

poem-exploding you March 4, 2014

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:20 pm
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Oh, belligerent woman

at the gas station.

You know you are wrong.

You see the arrows.

Instead of backing up

You drive forward,

and make obnoxious remarks.

The other ten of us

can follow directions.

One of these things is not

like the others.

You’re embarrassed.

I get that.

So apologize, and back up.

Don’t yell at me.

I’m going the right way.

I am an author, though.

So while you rant,

I have the satisfaction

of seeing the bomb

the terrorists have set

that you accidentally trigger

by going the wrong way.

As your car explodes in a fiery

conflagration,

the ten cars that are secure

in our rule following

are protected by our bubble of sanctity.

We smile contentedly

knowing karma is at work,

as the litter of your dissatisfied life

rains from the sky,

bouncing off of us and

our aligned automobiles.

As you back out,

muttering a chastened,

“Sorry,”

I am glad that imagination

trumps aggravation

every time.

.

.

It’s a popular saying, “Don’t mess with authors.  They will put you in their novels, and kill you.”  Today, I discovered the poetic equivalent. 😉

 

 
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