Shawn L. Bird

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

poem-embracing October 23, 2016

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:06 am
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Here we are

embracing our passion for words

learning from craftsmen

risking ourselves on the page

and handing the paper for critique.

Here we are

together for celebration of what we are

who we are

writers

powerless to resist the compulsion

powerful enough to create worlds.

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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-the switch August 6, 2014

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:45 am
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Trying to type
Fingers feel
unattached to hand.
Eyes blur.
Stomach rocks
Head dull.
It’s so hard
to rejoin
the diurnal world
.
.
Thursday I have to be in a workshop at 8 a.m. my time.  I need to be alert and absorbing information.  I’ve been going to bed between 4 and 7 a.m. the last few nights, working through the greatest heat.  My plan was to start last Friday, moving back an hour each night, but it didn’t work.  It was 4:30 on Sunday and 3:30 on Mon, despite pharmaceutical aid.  (I can stay up for hours after sleeping pill.  My body relaxes, but my brain just keeps plugging along…)  Wish me luck getting to bed at midnight tonight, with all my packing and preparations in order!
Yawn
 

poem- waking May 19, 2014

Filed under: OUTLANDERishness,Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:24 am
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I woke this morning

pleasantly foggy and

imagined my day.

What workshops will I attend?

Yes.  That one. This one.

Then I stretched my mind

into clarity and realized

conference is over;

everyone has gone home.

It was a melancholy moment,

before the smile,

savouring memories.

.

.

.

.

A memory like this one.  My dear husband, grinning broadly with Diana Gabaldon beside him outside the conference banquet.  This is the first time he’s met an author whose work he admires.  I’m laughing because I just had to sprint down the hall to get into the photo.  Despite being with Diana all weekend and snapping many photos of her with/for other people, this moment was the only one I had taken with her myself this year.

John-Diana-Shawn1crop

P.S. The counter says that this is my 1400th blog post.  Nice to celebrate with two of my favourite people! 😉

 

poem- ending May 18, 2014

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:22 pm
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The skies weep on the airport

bidding melancholy farewell

to the time of aggregation.

On my return drive, troubled skies glower,

containing their tears while

eagles, ospreys, and hawks wheel

on rising wind born of wistful  anamnesis.

At home a beam of sun light

glows at my door, grateful

illumination:

recollecting joy.

.

.

It is always bittersweet on the last day of a gathering, as participants return home.  Graduation celebration, weddings, funerals, conventions, conferences, camp.  The greater the anticipation of the event, the more melancholy the ending.  

I will treasure fond memories of Word on the Lake 2014.  43 hours of conference, anticipated for 572 days = 1.2 days of anticipation per hour of experience! 🙂

Sometimes, the ending remains a clear memory, while the middle disappears.  Do you have any poignant endings that you hold in your heart?

 

 

 

poem- tribal longings May 3, 2014

I miss my tribe.

The house is full of pessimistic

scientific thinkers.

I can’t coax them into poetry.

“I just can’t appreciate it,” says one.

“Poetry.  Yeah.  Whatever,” says the other.

They analyze and ruminate with

cold logic.

They don’t hear the wind’s song,

or feel the blackbird’s call.

I am a lone poet boat tossing

on their scientific sea.

But soon, my tribe will come.

I will be immersed in the language

of verse, pressed into prose.

I will know the companionship

of a crowd of like minds,

feeding on the energy to

fuel our words,

until we come together

again.

.

.

Just 2 weeks until Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival here in Salmon Arm, BC

I’m looking forward to learning from Diana Gabaldon, C. C. Humphreys, Gary Geddes, Ursula Maxwell-Lewis, Carmen Aguerra, Carolyn Swayze, Howard White, and more!  It’s always a fantastic weekend for a bargain price.  You should come.  Seriously.

 

 

pitching at a conference July 12, 2012

Filed under: Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:59 am
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There are 99 days before the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, and I’ve just remembered I have to prepare for my pitch.  I’ve been so excited about my blue pencil appointment with Diana Gabaldon that I’ve completely neglected the fact that I have an agent to meet with.  I anticipate having Grace Awakening Myth ready to pitch, or perhaps Number Eight, a high interest, low vocab novel I have had ‘just about finished’ for two years.  (Seriously, it’s missing about 2000 words, but Grace was a bully and completely took over).

The last time I pitched at a conference, I ended up with a contract for Grace Awakening with a small Vancouver publisher.  This time I’m meeting with a big time New York agent, and I feel a little out of my depth!  Writers’ Digest features a post this week on how to pitch to agents at conferences.  I am eager for the tips, and perhaps you’ll be interested, too.  See you in the appointment line!

 

 
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