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#CWS2016 – Day 2 at the Canadian Writers’ Summit


Oh, the writing conference.

I’m at the Canadian Writers’ Summit in Toronto this weekend.

I’ve been carrying my laptop around with me, and have only now – four workshops, one meeting, three meals, and one night alone in a hotel – opened it up to use it for writing.

I’ve got so much to say, yet little of it is…eloquent or ‘ready’ because my brain is overloaded with information, and my heart and soul are overloaded with feelings and inspiration and frustration.

This is what happens at a writer’s conference. Writers get together to talk writing in both casual and formal settings. No matter what, whether you’re standing in a food line or sitting next to someone in a workshop – the talk is ‘shop’. It’s about writing. The writing life. What’s your name (lean in and look at your name tag)? What do you write (meaning, what genre)? What have you published? I suppose it’s one of the only situations where someone asking you ‘are you published?’ doesn’t make your blood boil. We’re all in ‘this’ (the writing life) together, and the sense of community and connectedness is prevalent. We care about what the topics are. We engage in real discussions. We leave feeling satisfied…or unsatisfied, depending on the subject matter. Depending on our energy level.

Harbourfront Centre (a collection of buildings and tents hugging the shore line – in the spindly shadow of the CN Tower) is the perfect location. The weather is stunning, and we can walk to and fro being warmed by the sun and breeze.

Book Summit was yesterday. ‘Twas a day of workshops, and staring. Writers like to smile and stare at each other a lot before we move into any type of conversation. We read each other’s name tags and try to place names to book covers or publishers. Or organizing committee email lists! We’re a shy lot, mostly, so very used to being judged…and rejected. Alas, this is exactly what brings us together so nicely when we do begin to chat!

Some of us are ‘speakers’ – writers on panels or moderating them. And we’re nervous about this. At least the writers I’ve spoken with, myself included in this bunch. We’ve prepared our copy, we’ve sucked in some confidence…but we’re anxious about being on panels to talk about our writing lives and expertise. I always say that being nervous means you care (I mean, a good, healthy amount of nervousness that is! It’s a fine line…), so it goes without saying I’ve had swarms of flying insects in my belly for days…I’m on a panel about the writer as ‘cultural agent’. We’ve been planning for weeks. We’ve been writing and revising for weeks. Today’s the day for me, for our panel…and so many others. Some have to wait until tomorrow! But by then…I think, it’ll be easier. We’ll have all welcomed each other even more by then.

All we do is talk about writing. The business of writing. Teaching writing. Creative writing. We read to each other. It’s no wonder, I get to my hotel room – a coveted place for me! A place that makes my writing juices burst – and I want to do everything but write! My brain is full and busy…I’m exhausted and find it difficult to organize the voices in my head.

This is my weak attempt at it!

Day two into four days…and all I can muster is a hats-off to how well it’s all going. And how the panel I’m on is in just over an hour…and I better stop writing this and look over my notes…

Poking in between all of this ‘stuff’ I’m experiencing, I’ll have you know, is the growing list of emails I’m not answering, and worries I’m eff-youing because ‘I’m working’ at this conference. This is my time to be with my peers and learn and grow and connect. I don’t want to fuss with the parallel reality that’s a click or a phone call away. I just want to be here and take it in. It’s hard to do.

We talked about how to engage readers – to include them in our writing process, to communicate with them as we’re world-building, to figure out how to get them to read our books in new, exciting, perhaps digitally motivating ways…well, golly. I enjoy reading a book. Of paper. On a perfect, breezy, sunny afternoon like this one – and that’s all. I don’t want fancy sounds or colourful images…I want one thing at a time. So that’s what I’m trying to do…let this conference be my ‘one book’. The work can wait. The kids are safe and happy with the hubby. Everything is good.

It’s okay to let myself soak this experience in and give it my fullest attention. It’s not often that this happens, right?

Oh, the writing conference.

Gently marshmellowing my brain. In the best way!

Making connections. Getting inspired. Learning new things. Feeling community.

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