Ontario Writers Conference

by MW Cook

Was a blast! I’m still reeling from the exhausting glory-fest that it was. Here are some things that have stayed with me so far:

  • Setting is powerfulGwynn Scheltema led a great workshop on crafting setting to push your reader in the direction he ought to be. It was probably the most informative session of the day.
  • Connections are powerful – I had never really taken my writing ‘outside’ before. To meet others who were at similar progress levels to me was a very comforting experience. I made some great new friends and I hope I’ll see them again as we chase our stories.
  • Spirituality must be practical – There was an amazing author who helped me one-on-one with some of my writing (which is now listed as one of the most encouraging moments I’ve ever had) told me an amazing story of two Taoist monks which brought forth that life-giving truth about how anything spiritual must be practical.
  • The first draft is the hunk of marble – Just get it down. Then begin to chip away to reveal the masterpiece.
  • Stories are sacred things – Because they are acts of creation. Because they hold meaning. Because they give life. Because they hold so much more meaning than sermons or lectures or lessons. And that makes the writing of stories a sacred thing.
  • Writing is hard work – I knew that already. I also knew that anything good is hard. But I think I know it even more now. That’s a great thing to remember because it means I won’t be seeking the ‘ideal’ writing mode or mindset or environment. It’s like a job. Show up every day. Play hurt. No calling in sick.
  • While the specifics of publishing look confusing the core is very simple – Write well.
  • Your writing space ought to be ugly and uncomfortable – You’re not on vacation, after all. You’re writing, for crying out loud.
  • I am a writer. – My one-on-one session was one of the positive experiences my writing life has ever had. It went just about as good as it could have. But that’s not why I’m a writer. Even if it had been a horrible experience, I’d still be a writer. Even if my Blue Pencil mentor had written pages of harsh criticism and marked up my whole piece with piles of corrections, I’d still be a writer. Because writers are just people who write, not people who get paid for writing. And I write. I create stories. And stories are little universes. So I look at the label with respect and a touch of awe. And then I step forward and own it. And that feels pretty damn good.
  • Thanks, OWC. It was a great time. See you next year.