Okay, a few words are necessary here: Project Unstick turned up a very old friend in a bag of stuffies in the basement. Froschi was a gift from a friend – she sewed him for me for my confirmation, when we were both in Grade 7. I didn’t even know I still had him! Steve was pleased to meet one of his forerunners.
Word on the Lake was, once again, fantastic. I came home with my head stuffed with info, my feet hovering about two inches off the ground with the sheer buoyancy of inspiration.
Here are a few snippets, visual, inspirational or educational (the latter paraphrased in my own words from what stuck with me):
Ian Weir (screenwriter and novelist): “Give yourself permission to write. A lawyer goes to school for about nine years – a writer should be allowed the same time to learn their craft.”
Gail Anderson-Dargatz (novelist, teacher, mentor):
“Being a literary writer is like being a concert pianist. It takes the same level of training, and practice – and practice…”
“Write crap.” (i.e. get the first crappy draft on the page, then go back and work it over)
“Most writers share character traits of being odd, anxious, fearful, observant, introverted…” (There was a huge long list on the whiteboard. I almost cried with relief at hearing that I’m not alone.) “Don’t let your fears hold back your character on the page.”
Jacqueline Guest (teacher, writer of historic novels for young adults): “If it’s character-driven, what’s driving the character?”
There was story after story of the presenters’ own lives, which was probably more inspiring than anything else. This was, after all, a writer’s conference – probably the most interesting group of people to listen or talk to you could imagine. It didn’t matter where you were – in a workshop, at lunch, chatting between sessions – at the slightest provocation people drop into telling stories. And they tell them well – boredom is not one of the invited guests at a writers’ gathering.
I came away encouraged, inspired, and energized (as well as exhausted – it’s that introvert thing, which meant that even a day later I needed a really long nap just to recuperate some of my energies). My mind was expanded, and so was my network – I reconnected with friends from previous years, made new friends, found new mentors to follow and learn from…
I can’t wait for next year’s conference. But meanwhile, I have some writing to do!
Life, the Universe, and Snippets from a Conference. See you there in 2019?
Today on Enchanted Conversations by Yours Truly:
I did not hear my first fairy tales at the knee of my grandmother. Nor did someone read them to me as bedtime stories out of a venerable fat hardcover copy of Grimms’ Children’s and Household Tales. No—I got my introduction to the Land of Faerie through the record player. That’s right, children: Once upon a time, in a world far away from that of today, stories were told by a magic machine. Flat black discs with thin grooves engraved on them were placed upon a platter, a magic wand was laid on top, an enchanted lever was pressed, and suddenly the strains of music and the voice of a storyteller filled the room—though of the musicians and the tale teller there was no sight to be seen.
Oh, we did of course have paper books of the stories, as well. I still have on my bookshelf our first copies of Andersen, Hauff, and the Arabian Nights, all of which I enjoyed reading. But some of my favorites were, and still are, the Grimms’ tales I got from those vinyl records: “Snow White and Rose Red,” “The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats,” “Puss in Boots”…
The other day, I was listening to audio versions of fairy tales again. By now, the magic machine I use is so small that it fits in my back pocket, and it can do all sorts of other magical things (such as making phone calls)…
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I keep getting emails from WordPress these days: “Shenoptikus Caractacus [or whatever other name] is now following your blog. They will receive an email every time you publish a post. Congratulations.”
Oh dear, I think to myself, I wonder what Shenoptikus Caractacus thinks he’s getting into. Perhaps he started following because of the advertising on Enchanted Conversations’ newsletter, and expects regular erudite Editorial Pontifications. Or he picked up my blog because of a fairy tale story post, or a cooking one, or a “Wordless Wednesday” snapshot, and he thinks that’s what there is going to be on a bi-weekly basis – writing, recipes, photography.
Instead, Shenoptikus, what you’ll get is a hodgepodge of topics (not unlike the hodgepodge of my house), posted with less-than-perfect-regularity. Sometimes I drop out of the blogosphere for weeks or months at a time, then there’ll be a flurry of posts and blog engagement for a bit. And every once in a while, there are posts involving a small stuffed bear – his name is Steve. You’ll see him in the photo above.
So I apologise in advance if my blog doesn’t meet your expectations. But it’s not like I asked you to follow my blog, is it?
Aaagh, yes – yes, it is like that. I did ask; I want people to follow my blog. I’m jealous of bloggers who have a huge following, who get dozens of “likes” on their posts and lots of comments. Truth is, I have a jealously problem. I’m jealous of others who’ve achieved what seems so far out of reach for me – for example, writers who have traditionally published books, or an actual income from their self-published ones. Or editors who have a large clientele of gifted writers lining up and clamouring for their expert services.
For that matter, I’m also jealous of people who have clean and tidy houses and neatly weeded and trimmed yards with thriving plants and beautiful cosy patio nooks (yes, I’m looking at you!), and whose ducks are all nicely lined up in a row, doing synchronised swimming.
Mine – well, I don’t even have ducks. I have cats, and you know what they say about herding them.
However, cats are also far more comfortable to cuddle than ducks (I think – I’ve never tried cuddling a duck). And, sure, they shed fur (Louis currently exists in The Cloud, i.e. he raises a fur cloud every time you pet him), and they bring in dead things (or even worse, live ones), and they claw the furniture (my dining room door post is completely shredded). But they’re soft, and cute, and such personalities; and it makes me happy to have them around. They’re part of my life, in all its messiness.
So I think I’d rather have my cats than someone else’s tidy, cold, quacking ducks, even if they’ll never neatly line up in a row. Like my blog posts – they don’t line up neatly under one topic, either. Which might mean I won’t ever get that really large blog following, and once Shenoptikus figures out what an eclectic mess this page is, he might unsubscribe again. Oh well, too bad.
Then again, if Shenoptikus Caractacus is a spam bot, I don’t care about him anyway. Steve and I don’t need him; we’ve got all of you.
Life, the Universe, and Herding Cats. Jealousy is a waste of time, isn’t it?