Shawn L. Bird

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

engineering artistry June 13, 2010

There’s an artist and an engineer on your team.  They have different skills and you need to use both of them!  (Sylvia Taylor)

Sylvia Taylor presented a very practical workshop on editing at the Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival, and this quote is from that workshop.  Our very exacting and critical left brain and our very creative right brain can either work against one another or with each other.  This lesson is a very practical one for writers.

In this case, there is an “I” in team, since both members of the team are in our own head. When they’re fighting for our attention, nothing productive happens.  While our right brain is happily thinking up new plots and dialogue, our left brain is telling us our ideas are stupid and forcing us to second guess every line.  Sylvia recommended harnessing the ‘engineer’ of the right brain by doing timed writes.  The engineer is busy keeping tabs on the time, while the artist of the right brain is free to write without disturbance.

Another fabulous way to harness the critical left brain is during the editing process.   If we tell the left brain that it will get its chance afterwards, the right brain can create the story, article or poem, but then we can turn the piece over to the left brain to turn the art into craft: honing in on problems, pruning, improving and generally simply making the right brain’s effort stronger.  Editing is as important as the inventing, and often takes far more time.  Take advantage of your left brain’s skill in this area.

Writing is a team effort, it requires both our inner engineer and our inner artist.  We need to take full advantage of our whole brain to be stronger writers.  Thanks for the inspiring lesson, Sylvia.


We are The Borg May 31, 2010

The Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival is over for another year.  What a wonderful experience it was!  Last year the SAOW ran a mini festival, but this year they truly outdid themselves.  So many talented, inspiring presenters (too many, perhaps, since you couldn’t possibly get to be in every workshop you wanted to) filled our heads with information, examples, considerations,  ideas, and possibilities.  I know there are a lot more writers in the Shuswap than attended.  How sad to miss such an amazing opportunity on your doorstep!  I’m going to share some tidbits that I took away from various presenters over the next while, so stay tuned!

Today I attended a workshop with the amazing Crawford Kilian (LOVE that name! So distinguished!).   Crawford is a retired Capilano College prof who’s lived all over the world, and is published basically everywhere.  Crawford was speaking about “Techie Tools For Writers.” Essentially he showed the group how to use advanced search functions of Google.  None of this information was particularly new to me, but there is always something to take away from a workshop!  Crawford has an amazing collection of blogs on a wide variety of subjects.  Looking for information on H5N1?  Crawford Kilian is your man.  How about black pioneers in British Columbia?  How to write for the webEnglish tips?  Yes.  Crawford Kilian’s blog is the place to find everything you need.  He is astounding! 

He is also inspiring.  To maintain his many blogs is a labour of love.  They are a mixture of vocation and avocation.  He shows how a good writer uses all the resources available to him, and how being open to new technology brings your words to the world.

After Crawford’s workshop I offered my card to a writer and invited her to visit my blog.  She replied, “Oh, you write for teens so you need to do that stuff.  I don’t do that.  But thank you.”  I am still trying to figure out what she was thinking.  Crawford Kilian doesn’t write for teens.  He writes for every person on the planet.  I’m not writing for teens on my blog.  I’m writing for anyone who’s curious about the things I’m curious about.  I’m writing for anyone who wants to explore ideas and artistic perspective.  I’m writing for anyone who likes something yummy to eat!  We have technology available to us that connects us to the world and gives the world an opportunity to connect to us.  We are The Borg.  We are all part of each other in the new world of internet connectivity.  Writers need to tap the collective consciousness for the symbiosis of mutual productivity.

I’m glad to be here on the net with you, dear symbiotic reader!


Words May 28, 2010


We fill our days with them.  We speak them.  We read them.  They shout at us from billboards.  They whisper at us from between the notes of a song. 

 We celebrate upon a baby’s first words.  We’re empowered when we first read words.  We grieve when a stroke steals words.  We hover around a bedside to hear last words.

This weekend is a celebration of words.  I will be attending the Shuswap Writers’ Festival.  I had just finished Grace Awakening last year when I attended my first writing conference here in the Shuswap.  I thought meeting some professional writers and  mingling with the writing community was bound to be a good experience.  It was all  new. I wasn’t sure what a blue pencil was, and why I’d want to participate in it.  It was enlightening.  Every workshop offered gems.  I hung on the edge of my seat listening to Andrea Spalding share her experiences and work.  Words filled the weekend and led to more words.  On the basis of my experience I was encouraged to be brave  and travel to attend the huge Surrey International Writers’ Festival 5 months later.  That conference  was also phenomenally inspiring and led to some new writing friends and connections.

Now I will be hanging on the edge of my seat again.  What words will be shared this weekend?  Will a book sell?  Will a career launch?  Who will I meet?  What will I learn?   I am eager to meet the professionals and soak up as many of their words as I can.  I’m hoping to hear some encouraging words.

Words are waiting to change my world again.  Whose words willl they be?


%d bloggers like this: