Classes · Events · On Writing

Notes & Quotes from the Humber School for Writers

My brain is mushy but I feel the need to share some of the quotes and notes I’ve made as I near the end of day two at the Humber School for Writers Summer Workshop.

These notes and quotes are scrawled messily in my notebook…and I’ve done my best to be verbatim with the quotes…

“Write about things that fascinate you.” Becky Blake, author of Proof I Was Here, Buckrider Books, 2018

“Paper, audio, ‘e’ – these are containers for books.” Alison Maclean, Humber Creative Book Publishing

“Emotional texture…” Jenny Offill, author of Sparky and Dept. of Speculation (and more!),Timothy Findley Visiting Writer

“…overarching and internal core…” Jenny Offill

“Tell your truth but slantwise.” Emily Dickenson

What is the writer’s equivalent to the painter’s stretching canvases? When a painter’s process…stalls…a painter may ‘stretch canvases’…consider what a writer’s stretching canvases is…

“…type out things that interest you…go into a library, into a section you don’t anything about…open the books and take notes…” Jenny Offill

Read: George Orwell’s ‘Why I Write‘. (Note to self.)

“…the pleasure of painting words together…” David Bezmozgis, Director/Writer, Humber School for Writers

“ of the things I love about being a writer…is that…the light doesn’t go out…” Jenny Offill

“…narrative momentum – emotional velocity…things have to matter…” Jenny Offill

“…summon that authority of your own by choosing to write about what interests you…” Jenny Offill

“…have the right, get it right…” Alissa York, author of The Naturalist

“Pit-lamping…does anyone know what pit-lamping is?” Alissa York (Here’s the definition.)

“…follow the interesting…follow and listen to the talk back…” Alissa York

“Fail honestly.” Tracey Lindberg, author of Birdie

“…protecting the earth is protecting a relative…” Tracey Lindberg

“…respectful reflection…” Tracey Lindberg

“…take responsibility for your own education…be a good relative…show up.” Tracey Lindberg


It has only been two days and I am filled up…with inspiration…with awe…with gratefulness…and also with a mental warring/sparring of thoughts and feelings and emotions with each panel, talk, workshop and conversation I experience/have.

“I’m rigth here!” I want to scream when the Simon & Schuster panelist talks about finding authors…but I don’t yell it, speak it or even whisper it. Instead, the voices in my head question:

what I did wrong?

why (publishers/agents) haven’t they ‘seen’ me?

should I have videotaped myself reading my poetry on youtube?

should I have posted more pictures?

should I have instagramed my poetry?

and then….

are these the wrong questions?

should I be asking….

what did i do right?

what will ‘they’ always see?

It’s not about right and wrong…or timing or luck…

Or it’s about all of the above.

It’s about navigation and self-talk and….

Why is this so exhausting? Because the mind-chatter (warring/sparring/tearing) – the emotional scripting happening in my head goes up and down and all around…and

it’s a lot of sitting and listening and paying attention…

it’s a lot of coffee and snacks and gas crashing under my skin…

“Be genuine in what you do…Support your community…” (Didn’t write down who said this, but essentially all the panelists said it in one way or another.)


I sobbed in [our] workshop this morning.


I miss the kids. The hubby. The dogs… The smell of the house and the look of sun through the trees in the backyard.




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