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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 
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