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.


Sorry about the shoes Sylvia! June 1, 2010

Filed under: Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:42 am
Tags: , ,

Sylvia Taylor, President of the Federation of BC Writers, has had a life full of interesting adventures and accomplishments.  She is the author of a book about her time on in fishing boat on the Pacific Coast called The Fisher Queen, but tough as she is, she can still be distracted.

And apparently, all through her moderating of the Forum on the State of Canadian Publishing  at the Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival she was being sorely distracted by an adorable pair of shoes worn by a writer in the front row.  They were Cute Shoes: very graphic black and white patent leather peep-toes with big buttons, bobbing on the end of animated feet.  They’re the kind of shoes that are busy gossiping things like, “Come be my friend!”  or “I’d love to talk to you!”  or even, “I love your Fisher Queen book, Sylvia!” even while the hands above the feet are busily typing notes about the discussion, and the head is busy processing the information and asking intelligent questions.  Those shoes were not the smart girl with her hand in the air, they were the cheer leader in the back driving the teacher – or moderator – crazy with her giggles.

My shoes.

Sorry Sylvia.

You did a great job moderating.


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!


Whoo hoo! I won! May 30, 2010

How delightful to be a winner of the Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival Cheesy Suspense Quick Write Contest. 😀

These are a fun part of writing conferences. The committee prepares an opener, and participants can create a 80 word or less ending to the story in either prose or poetry.

OPENING: It is a wild and stormy night on Shuswap Lake. No one in their right mind should be out in this. Wait! What was that? A lightning flash caught a movement on the beach! Who, or what, could it be? Whatever it was seemed to be pulling something heavy towards the water. The next lightning flash showed only an empty beach. Maybe I should investigate…


The heavy thing splashes
Like manuscript ashes
While that thing on the beach
Is extending its reach.

In the storm a crowd gathers
And houseboat slosh lathers
The shore, when another bright flash
Shows the victim making a dash
From the whole Shuswap Watershed commission
wielding a thick anti- Smart Centre petition.

Who’s the guy fleeing the party?
I would swear it was Marty…

Apologies to those who are not local and are missing the humour! 😉 Marty is our mayor and voted for a WalMart Smart Centre to be built in a sensitive Watershed area. It’s a bit of a hot issue in the Shuswap these days! This entry should have won me a gift basket of gouda cheeses apparently. Unfortunately, since you had ‘to be present to accept your prize’ and I was having dinner with a publisher when they announced the winners, I get the accolades but not the yummy prize.    2nd place Brenda Melnachuk got to take home the cheese. Well, I may get a better prize out of a wonderful evening. We’ll just have to wait and see.


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