Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Notes From the Amazing Shuswap Writers' Festival

John Pass
 I had the privilege to attend and photograph the Shuswap Writers' Festival in Salmon Arm, BC this last weekend.  The festival is put on by the Shuswap Association of Writers, who, I have to say, did a wonderful, professional job of organizing this festival - it was a jam packed three day extravaganza of writing and reading (and eating)!  This year was different from past years in that there was a lot for readers, not just writers.  Also this year, all of the authors were from BC!  I found it so amazing and inspiring to see the talent and range of writers that we have here in this province. 

Evelyn Lau
As photographer, I was able to poke my head into every workshop and hear a bit from everyone and thought I'd share some of the highlights.

If you have a different kind of book or poem, think outside the box and consider a different kind of publishing, for example chapbooks, pamphlet or postcards.  If you number and sign your work, you add value to it (like art).

Don't tell people you are self publishing - make up a name for a press for yourself and use that.

William Deverell.
If you are facing writer's block, do a ten minute (or even five minute) timed write.  This can be a great way to write a few pages and get the juices flowing without a lot of pressure.  This can be useful to do with characters you are stuck on - just write about them, where they live, what they look like, etc for ten minutes, if only to get to know them better.  None of this need ever end up in your work, but it can get you going and help you know your characters and their reactions and motivations better.  Not sure where to begin?  Look at a photo and do a timed write.
Grant Lawrence

When your character describes anyone or anything else, you characterize the person doing the telling. You can let the objects show the emotions by having your characters describe them.

Writing first thing in the morning, just a few pages of anything, can get you into a "writer's state of mind" for the day.
Nancy Warren

Rejection can be good.  Not all of your work should be published, but all of it is valuable because you learn from it.  On the other hand, being persistent can pay off.

Wendy Phillips
When writing memoir, remember that your memories are yours and you do not have to ask permission to write them, even if others are involved in the story that you are writing.  Their memories are theirs.  However, do try to be sensitive of other people, especially if they are still living.  It is no fun to go out and embarrass people. 

Always assume your reader is at least as smart as you are (ie, you don't have to describe every little detail).

If you are uncomfortable writing something (ie love scenes), it will show.

Micheal Slade
Being angry at something can be a clue to passion and can be a good channel for fiction.  It can also be good to write about what you fear the most, what keeps you awake at night because there will also be lots of emotion there. 

Your hero needs to be able to do something at the end of the book that they could not do at the beginning of the book.  The challenge is how you get there.
Theresa Kishkan

You want your readers to experience your story, not just read it.  Tension is great for this as it creates conflict and suspense.  To increase the tension, add a time pressure (ticking clock).  You can also create tension by letting the reader in on things that the characters do not know.

The most successful authors are the ones who do the lion's share of the work themselves.

Annabel Lyon
There was so much more information than this, but these are things that stuck in my head.  I find this festival hard to sum up because I feel like I got so much out of it just by being there and soaking up the atmosphere.  The best part was definitely the fun and inspiration - I feel a renewed energy and creative flow.  I always love being around people who have a passion for what they do, and I certainly got that this weekend from both the authors and the attendees.  What can be better than spending time with people who are following their dreams?
Deanna Kawatski

Angie Abdou
One of the most important things that I am taking away is that these authors all have a strong interest in something, whether it be their work, studies, travels, people they meet... and they channel these interests into a creative outlet.

All photographs (c) Coreena McBurnie, 2011.


  1. Wonderful coverage of the Festival Coreena. The photos are dynamic and the notes are great too. Your website is very impressive!WOW!
    Kay Johnston

  2. Thanks Kay, I've sent on a disc of photos, but they are probably caught up the in strike. It was a fun festival - you guys did such a good job.


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