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Thursday, May 10, 2007


"Those who aim at great deeds must also suffer greatly."
Marcus Licinius Crassus 70 BC from Plutarch, Lives, Crassus ch.

I've been lucky to attend a couple of excellent writer's events over the past two weeks. The first was a weekend in Victoria on Vancouver Island where I attended the Federation of B.C. Writer's A.G.M. and a workshop on writing memoirs.

The keynote speaker at the A.G.M. UVic professor and author Lynne Van Luven, presented an interesting lecture titled "Hints for Heavy Lifting: How to Maintain Writerly Stamina." She likened writing a "a cerebral gymnasium" and gave some very useful "fitness" tips for writers. Just as a work-out at the gym increases strength and stamina, so too does daily practice in the craft of writing.


She used weight lifting as a metaphor for writing: As in weight training, self discipline and willing to 'show up' day after day is important. DISCIPLINE. REPETITION and FOCUS are important for a writer. Put your work first and don't give up. Eventually your passion and persistence will pay off.

The second day of the FED weekend I went to a workshop for memoir writing hosted by Pauline Holdstock, author of a collection of literary and reflective essays Mortal Distractions and a novel Beyond Measure which was short-listed for the Giller Prize in 2004.

As I am planning to begin assembling the memoirs of my life and travels in Greece, I found this workshop very informative and useful. Memoirs are different from autobiographies. They are like a photo album of life, stories told and shaped around a theme or event. Memoirs deal with emotion and truth. One thing to remember when writing a memoir is to give yourself license to play around and alter the truth. Don't stick rigidly to facts. She suggested reading Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir Writing by William Linsser.
As I instruct a memoir writing group I found this workshop extremely useful and motivating.

Last weekend was another enriched writer's event, the annual B.C. Association of Travel Writers' Gala. I helped with some of the planning and set-up for this and it was a very enjoyable day spent with many travel writers, even a few who attend my classes. The keynote speaker was Daniel Wood, a renown travel writer who teaches travel writing at Simon Fraser University. His lecture was titled:How to Look a Rhinoceros in the Eye: A survival guide for the wayward travel writer.

I learned a lot and took careful notes of the highlights of his talk. Some of the main points were : Get involved, get inside the story, take risks and go to the edge.

As I set off on my next grand adventure (six more sleeps!) I am well prepared for the new discoveries that await me. Going to Venice has been a long-time dream of mine. I have done my research, know what I want to see and what stories I want to pursue, and I'm ready to discover and experience whatever comes my way.

"Put your shoulder to the wheel."
Aesop 550 BC "Hercules and the Wagoner"


Sam said...

I hope you have a WONDERFUL time in Venise!

Gabriele C. said...

Yeah, have fun.

I don't think I'm shaped as travel writer. I can get plot bunnies from the histoy of a place, but I never see the stories around me.

Wynn Bexton said...

Thanks for your greetings. Four more sleeps! Yipee!

Gabriele, I usually have my story ideas figured out to make sure I see what I want to see but then I am open to anything new that happens. Usually I travel alone. This time will be quite different, but it's going to be a lot of fun.

Keep watching my travel blog

Nienke said...

Thx for sharing your notes and opinions! You're already having fun while I'm writing this!
Enjoy to the fullest!