It’s a lovely feeling to walk into an industry event and neither feel like a fraud nor have fear and shyness paralyze me. It’s been a phenomenon for me a few times this spring now.
At the KW Canoe Symposium I may have had some nerves about being underprepared (by my standards) but I certainly loved chatting with attendees and other speakers both before and after the event. The same was true for an industry tourism meeting I attended last week. Perhaps it makes sense – it’s easy to get excited about canoeing. I also knew more than a handful of people at each event.
However this feeling also carried over to the Ontario Writers’ Conference. The event certainly had the potential for me to feel fraudulent and horridly shy: I don’t have anything formally published and I didn’t know a soul in attendance. I didn’t have to. I plopped myself at an empty table and people came to talk to me! I’m great at continuing conversations with new people. It’s not always easy for me to start conversations. Usually I draw a complete blank and then panic.
Under low-hanging clouds at the Deer Creek Golf Club, people gave generously of their time – asking what each other was working on over copious amounts of coffee and lovely little pastries. Writers who had pitches to agents in the morning distractedly told their own stories in between practicing their conversation in their heads. One woman worked on tween fiction, another on books that could be paired with the gaming industry, a third wrote fantasy.
Dorothea Helms opened the tenth and final conference, imagining colliding worlds of literary characters and superheroes, entertaining us with quick quips such as “Imagine the Grinch running for U.S. president. Oh wait, he is.”, and sending us on our way to our first workshop.
As mine had been cancelled, I swapped into Ruth E. Walker’s “From Inspiration to Publication” workshop where we discussed everything from generating ideas to approaching publication. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a fiction writer. Her principles were as apt for the ideas I have rolling around my head as for my new friend, the tween fiction writer.
Over lunch we listened to Wayson Choy wax poetic over writing as a noble endeavor. We listened to two authors (M-E Girard and Heather Tucker) whose first books will be released this fall read excerpts from their books.
In my afternoon session we had a group discussion with Farzana Doctor, a psychotherapist and an author, about addressing the various forms fear takes, in a mindful way. I struggle with consistency which stems from a concern that I don’t have anything interesting to say. However as I look at my Trello board, I clearly have at least 12 weeks of stories to share with you as long as I put my butt in my chair, hands on my keyboard, and write the darn things. There has to be enough time for those stories as well as the ones I’m working on for bigger, longer, writing projects. And my day job. And sleep. And adventures. Ha!
Drew Hayden Taylor wrapped up the conference sharing his approach to generating new ideas and new directions – all wildy whimsical. I said good-bye to new friends, congratulated the fantasy writer on her successful pitch, and promised to stay in touch. I came away with new goals and feeling invigorated to write more, to share more strategically, feeling like myself.
Up for discussion: what makes you feel like yourself?