(Oh and my cat! But I won’t be talking about her today.)
Today is the day of C. Luckily I am now back from Calgary (one of my C’s) where I was supporting a couple of fellow writers in an event put on by Pages on Kensington — a great bookstore, and if you’re in Calgary, be sure to check it out!
What can I say? We drove out of spring in Edmonton (finally) and into a massive snowstorm in Calgary. Had to be eight inches of snow — the last thing in the world I wanted to see — but we made it to the hotel (Yay) and then to the panel (Double yay) with no big incidents. (All right, so there was one red light run, and other bits of driving excitement, but not enough to warrant its own paragraph.)
The panel featured Robert J Sawyer, Billie Milholland and Barb Galler-Smith. It was put on by Pages, and moderated by Eric Volvers, writing for the Calgary Herald. Lots of people showed up (Calgarians don’t let a little thing like a snow storm stop them!) and there was lots of lively discussion about whether science fiction and fantasy are the all feared rulers of genre fiction (according to the authors, yes they are) and why. As I was sitting listening to the authors wax poetic about how these genres (especially science fiction) thematically deal with issues that provoke thought and discussion, and how they have the potential to change world views of their readers, I wondered how writers in other genres would feel about this. Are science fiction and fantasy the thinking persons genres? What about the rest? What do you think?
While we were in Calgary, we went to a workshop led by Quincy Troupe — a renowned Jazz poet. The work shop was about putting jazz into your writing, and Quincy regaled us with stories about how he does this. He read us some of his poetry, including two poems about basketball players that absolutely blew me away — and I don’t even like basketball! Then he explained how he put them together, and why he used the form and words he did — and that blew me away even more.
So, why did I, someone who has admitted she does not have a poetic bone her in her body, go to a workshop put on by a poet? Because I needed to. I have found that if I don’t rub shoulders with poets, I forget to remember how important WORDS are to my craft. I get all caught up in plot, and theme, and character development, and forget to examine the words I’m using. For sound, for impact. For beauty. For horror. For whatever I need in the book that I’m writing.
Hanging around with poets brings me back to the word, and I need that desperately, so that my writing is as beautiful and powerful word by word as it is powerful page by page, and chapter by chapter. I believe the words (and the images and emotions) you are trying to evoke in a story is JUST as important as plot and character and theme. Without it, you are not creating something that will emotionally engage your reader. (Hah! Snuck in the creating a story thing! Bet you thought I wouldn’t be able to!)
My question to all of you is — do you go to workshops and take classes? If so, why? What kind of workshops do you choose? If not — why not?
The final C is cookies. Something I LOVE to bake. So here’s a link to one of my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipes. Enjoy!