Monday, April 28, 2014

Literary Festival (LitFest New West) notes by Leanne Dyck

Priceless because of the quality of the information I received. Priceless because it didn't cost a nickel. Yup, you read right--not a nickel. Got to love those free literary festivals. 

This is the second year I've attended this warm and welcoming festival. And it felt like going home. The biggest hurdle I had to jump was picking which workshop to attend. Three streams of workshops ran simultaneously throughout the day--from 11:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Three. 
Now, at home, as I glance through the pamphlet I think, why didn't I attend that or that or that. But instead of 'shoulding' myself, I'll share what I heard, saw and did.

My day began with..
 The Business Side of Writing (11:00 a.m. to noon) by Daniela Elza
Ms. Elza encouraged participation and tailored the workshop to serve our needs and interests. We began by brainstorming around the question:  What is the business of writing? 

Submissions: Ms. Elza suggested that we read widely--magazines and books--and as we do harvest (my term) the names of the publishers of our favourite literature. That way we'll have a list of publishers to contact. But as well as names, we should also take notes regarding which of our stories would best suit the publishers' interests. And she encouraged us not to stop there but to record our reflections about the publisher as we read. 
Ms. Elza gave us other helpful tips regarding submissions such as following each publisher's submission guidelines to the letter, taking the time to thoroughly edit our work before we send it and carefully tracking our submissions.

Rejections:  The more submissions you have in the pipeline the better your odds and the less painful a single rejection will be. Ms. Elza reminded us that there are many reasons that your piece could be rejected and disliking your writing is only one reason. She suggested that one way to deal with your feelings about being rejected is to share them with your fellow writers--a good reason to belong to a community of writers. And, as an editor, she told us that if we thought it was hard to receive a rejection image writing one

Doing author readings: 
Don't List:  apologize, go over the time allotted, fidget, feel sorry for yourself, explain your reading, mumble
Do List:  smile, breathe deeply, drink hot water, believe in your work, practice in front of a mirror or videotape yourself

Writing Block
I told Ms. Elza that I referred to 'writing block' as 'writer pause'. She said that was one of the best terms she'd heard for it. (a high point of my day)
-having a daily writing routine is a very helpful way to minimize the effects of writing block or writer pause.          
It's important to keep positive about your writing life. One way to do this is to volunteer your time and to help promote others.

How do you balance marketing your work with writing?
-learn to say no
-remember that you and your work is (and should be) the most important to you
-keep it fun
-take care of yourself

Both Sides Now:  Essential Elements of Adaptation (12:45 to 1:45 p.m.) by Don Hauka
Description (from the pamphlet) 'Adapting your book to the screen is tough--how about adapting your screenplay to the novel form?...Hauka will use his personal experience in adapting his mystery novels to the screen and vice-versa'
Mr. Hauka presented a well-organized, thoroughly researched, multi-media presentation.
I was especially struck by what he said about being a screenwriter. A screenwriter is only one member of a team--above you is the producer and, in the case of TV, network executives. They will put limits on your story. Mr. Hauka stressed that it is the story that is most important. And the core of the story should never change, regardless of how it is being presented.
I walked away thinking that I probably won't become a screenwriter.

Double Exposure's Introduction to Comedy Writing (2:00 to 3:00 p.m.) by Bob Robertson & Linda Cullen
Description (from the pamphlet) 'Canada's multi award-winning comedy team..., the creators of one Canada's most successful CBC radio and TV series...will teach you the basics of writing comedy scripts.'
This was the most well-attended workshop. The room was packed--standing room only. And no one was disappointed. Their presentation was both entertaining and informative. They began by giving us a quick definition of comedy writing--the ability to make people laugh. They told us there were no rules. But advised us to avoid puns. Then shared four tools that would lead us down the road to ha, ha:  satire, parody, literalism (take a phrase or a lyric and putting it in a different context), anthorpomorphism (giving human characterics to something other than a human) and observational humour
Interview with Double Exposure

Publisher's Panel (3:15 to 4:15 p.m.) by Brick Books, Ekstasis Editions, Libros Libertad Publishing
Brick Books publishes poetry
Libros is now focusing on publishing translations
Ekstasis has a special interested in sharing the wealth of Quebec literature with the English speaking Canada.
The publishers spoke of the challenge of making money. And all stated that they were committed to continuing their press whether or not they made a profit.
-indi publishing (small press) offers the most opportunity for authors
-manuscripts that are accepting now will be published in 2016
-author readings are mainly done in bookstores