"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.
SHOW UP. SWEAT. REPEAT. INCREASE LIFT LOAD AS YOU PROGRESS.
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"