Saturday, May 07, 2005


"Let us sacrifice to the Muses."
(from Plutarch, The Banquet of the Seven Wise Men) Solon, 638-559 BC

Another week has wound down, and it has been full of writing activities as well as a little pleasure. Yesterday the travel writers held a coffee-workshop downtown at the Art Gallery Cafe. Nothing like a deadline to get the creative gears in motion! I have so many travel stories as yet unwritten, because I've been focusing mostly on my novel. So I dug some notes out of the pile of 'to-do's' and put together a short article, mainly so I'd have something to take along with me.

I visited the O'Keefe Ranch last summer and was quite impressed with this little piece of B.C. heritage, so I'd made some notes and from these I wrote a quick little piece and took it along in it's virgin form, to be workshopped. There were five of us, and everyone had brought something new to read. I must say I felt appologetic about my attempt as it seemed 'flat' compared to how I usually write. But squeezing a story into 500 words ain't easy!
At any rate, everyone thought it was great, although we all agreed it needed some colouring up. So today I got on the internet and found a few m ore details that I can add to it.
One good thing about these travel writer's workshops is that we exchange markets as well as critiques so I came home with a list of possibilities. Besides that, it was a lovely afternoon out on the patio exchanging news and chit-chat with people of like mind. Of course there were a lot of congratulations for my Big Win too, and some suggestions and advice about Malaysia from a couple of the women who have been there. (All good!)

In the evening I attended another of the new play reading series. This time a play by an Aboriginal woman playwright, Is There Bingo In Heaven which was delightfully funny as well as poignant. (I used to live with a bingo freak so I got quite a chuckle out of it.)
I saw other friends at the play as well, and afterwards headed back to my 'Hood to my favourite hangout, the LQ. Lots of friends there too, and everyone all excited for me about my Big Win. "You really deserve it," they all said. Which made me feel pretty good.

At the workshop in the afternoon we'd been talking about all these publications that don't pay us for our writing. Sometimes you have to 'prostitute' yourself just to get something in print for experience sake, but it always chokes me up when you get a big piece, that you've slaved over for weeks, published and find out the publication doesn't pay. OK, my Coal Mines story is out there at a few other plaes, one of them in England, so hopefully it will eventually make me a few dollars. And I've just submitted it to an anthology. But, in the meantime, I feel that my Big Win has kind of 'paid' for all those unpaid articles and the FAM trips I've missed out on. So yes, I guess I really did 'deserve' it.

Well, the day ended happily and I came home feeling satisfied and somewhat elated from all the accolades. Today I'm going to a friend's book signing (children's lit); and tomorrow night another play reading, this time it's Michael Ondaaje's Coming Through Slaughter which I've heard is very good.

"True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise: it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one's self; and, in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions." Joseph Addison, 1672-1719


Sam said...

Is there Bingo in Heaven sounds wonderful- what a great title!
As for non paying publications...there are a lot of them out there! I suppose it's one way of getting your foot in the door - but it's nice getting a token payment, or even author's copies, which some places give out in guise of payment. (thinking Literary Potpourri or Vestal Review here)
At any rate, good luck with getting your novel finished!!

Mary Stella said...

I used to work freelance and well know the pain of not getting paid for certain pieces. Down with deadbeats who let us work out tails off and then don't pay.

On another note, I work with travel journalists frequently in my 'day job' when they come through the Florida Keys. Thanks for visiting my blog.