Monday, February 24, 2014

WordsThaw literary festival notes by Leanne Dyck

On Saturday, February 22nd I woke at 5:20 a.m. to catch the 7:05 a.m. ferry. I would be travelling with my friend and fellow writing group member, Amber Harvey and her husband.
We spent an enjoyable day at the University of Victoria attending...

 My only suggestion, and it's a suggestion often made by visitors to Mayne Island, more signage please. Amber and I weren't familiar with the campus. We'd been told that it would be in the Human and Social Development Building. We found the building. But finding an open door proved to be a lot harder. As we waited, doubt crept up and stabbed us in the gut: It's 9:30 a.m. Why are we the only people here? Had Words Thaw been cancelled? Finally, I walked around the entire building and found an open door. A few well placed signs would have arrested our concerns.
Any way, the rest of the day more than made up for that small oversight. Volunteers were cheerful and helpful--a winning combination.

Author as Avator:  Social Media and blogging (10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)

Moderator:  John Threlfall

Writers, journalists and publishers increasingly appreciate the importance of social media and blogging to their processional aspirations. The panelists will talk about how to develop a following and sense of community through social media and what best practices apply to this increasingly more visible arena of writerly activity.

I'd like to thank the panelists and moderator, I gained tons of helpful information. Here's what I learnt...

most valuable social networking tools:  twitter, blogging, facebook and YouTube

All authors should have a website. Building an on-line presence is very important for authors. But be ever aware of how you are representing yourself. You want to come across as a person but avoid appearing negative in anyway.

Think about why you want to be on social media--who you want to follow and who you want to be followed by. How much time do you want to spend? (rule of thumb:  1 per day twitter/ 1 to 2 per day on facebook). Invest time in planning before you interact. And spend time maintaining your social media. (i.e. unfollow on Twitter, etc.)

Social media is about sharing and building community. So 30% should be about you--70% should be about supporting other people. Remember social media means that you're in the public. And think about what you're audience wants.

If you receive a negative review don't call attention to it on-line. Instead the best method is to briefly mention that you were reviewed and the publication.

You can post published articles/stories on your blog. [I do this and link back to the publisher's website.]

Plan your blog posts and incorporate visuals.

Maximum word counts for blog articles should be around 700 words. [My articles have been getting a little long, as of late. I'm going to work on shortening them.]

I asked for useful twitter hash tags. I received:  #librarian; #canlit, #bookblogger

Twitter:  if you want to connect with someone through twitter and have the public see it use:  .(dot) name
if you want to send something directly to someone through twitter and keep it private us:  @name

Twitter is an especially effective tool when promoting events and books.

Blogs to check out:  

The Inner Life of our Words:  Writing and the Human Spirit (1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.)

Panelists:  Marita Dachsel, Tim Liburn and Jane Munro

Moderator:  Andrew Rippin

Is there a relationship between poetry and the inner life? And if there is, what form or direction--or directions--does it take? Does writing and reading probe the spiritual life (or lives) of the self, another person, a community, or even an age? Can poetry be a catalyst to discovering and expressing not only "what we know" but "what we want to know"?

This was a thought-provoking, mindful discussion. So mostly I just sat there captivated and mesmerized. Here's what I heard...focused on...

Something that you've been reading knows you deeply and through this experience you've been made stronger.

Anything truly attended to is spiritual practice.

The act of making art is key.

Something is growing inside me
Occupying my body
I don't know what it is 
It absorbs me
Between me and it--there is commonality but difference

General discussion about the muse and general agreement--amongst the panelists--that she/he/it doesn't exist. 
writing is hard work
writing is the courage to waste time

Poetry is how she figures out life and a way to answer questions that she has

Poetry makes a life that is identifiable out in the world that is close to her inner life.

Writers and poets are making sense of things not recording things

Not everything I write needs to be read by another

From a member of the audience:  I need to be centred so that life flows through me. Life flows through me onto the page. Our gift is to listen to the soul. A surprise of the writing process. The whole purpose of writing is connecting soul to soul.
Asked panelists to comment on soul.
Panelists replied by saying that her words were beautiful but that they had problems with the terminology she used--namely, 'soul'. One panelist said that she equated 'soul' to 'creativity'. 

Sharing my author journey...

Brief Encounters:  15-minute critiques or creative work (12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.)

Between the morning and afternoon panel discussions eight Victoria writers are available for brief, 15-minute one-on-one sessions with aspiring writers looking for advise about their poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, children's literature, or young-adult fiction.

Thanks to Dede Crane and Robin Stevenson, I return to my revisions feeling guided and challenged. It was a pleasure sharing my writing with them.