Tag Archives: Conference

Don’t Blink!

On average, human beings blink approximately 15,000 times per day. Each blink lasts between 300 and 400 milliseconds (1000 milliseconds equals 1 second). Which means that we spend approximately 5,250 seconds or over 1 HOUR each and every day blinking. Do you ever wonder what you miss?

As writers, we love to spend our days wide-eyed……constantly watching for those ‘missed’ moments – the moments that last a mere blink of the eye.

What does this mean? Well….other than an incessant need for eye-drops, it means that we are inspired by those ‘moments’.

An intake of breathe by a bride, seconds before she walks down the aisle.

The partially hidden eye-roll from a pre-teen during an argument with their sibling.

The flicker of embarrassment you notice on the face of your teenage daughter after she stumbles wearing her first pair of heels

While others have moved past the moment, writer’s remain, watching……observing.

We wonder if the bride to be is nervous, afraid, or suffering from indecision. We wonder if she suddenly realized that she really needed to pee (or worse) and isn’t certain if she can make it through the ceremony. Thoughts of, “Why did we choose to eat spicy Indian food at our rehearsal dinner” run through her head as she makes her way down the aisle. Damn! That storyline writes itself!

A writer will endeavor to create a story around the eye-roll, conjuring up a scenario where the pre-teen grows up to be a serial killer aka Dexter.

The flicker of embarrassment following the stumble in the high heels? That becomes a part of a bigger story, perhaps leading to a screenplay for a coming of age movie like Ladybird. Our character ‘Joanne’ refuses to wear shoes for the rest of her life because of that one instance and eventually she runs for the Presidency and wins and now there is a President called Shoeless Joanne.

We notice things. We stash them away in our subconsciousness to be retrieved at a later date or we drop everything and rush to a computer and begin writing.

I am so excited to become an Erma Bombeck Workshop Freshman. I have loved Erma since I was a child and to be surrounded by so many other individuals who share the passion for laughter is…well….it’s mind blowing!

The fact that in one week’s time I will be sitting alongside so many like-minded individuals is truly a dream come true. Knowing that you all are so observant will be unnerving – which reminds me to pack extra floss because y’all will definitely notice the errant piece of spinach in my teeth.

Writers…..well, we try to make the ordinary EXTRAORDINARY. Humour writers make the ordinary extraordinary and FUNNY.

See you soon! If you see me staring, unblinking, don’t worry…..I am not a creeper (at least I have never been charged). It is only because I don’t want to miss a thing!

Judy

PS: Can I bring my cape? I hear some people are bringing tiara’s…..

Yes…..I own a cape

What do YOU Write?

“What do YOU write ?” the woman asked me as she slid her glasses into position and peered at my chest, squinting to make out the name on my plasticized badge.

It was my first time attending the Surrey International Writers’ Conference and that question, “what do you write?” seemed to be the standardized greeting used by the hundreds of attendees.

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I wish there had been a memo beforehand.

I will admit that the first day of the conference I mentally stumbled every time I was asked that question. What DID I write? Was it: Creative non-fiction? Personal essays? Opinion pieces? Memoiresque non-fiction with a light (okay….sometimes heavy handed) sprinkle of glittering embellishment? Basically…. I polish a turd called life. Can I say that to people? Is there a spot for polished turds on a Chapters.Indigo bookshelf?

Day two of the conference, after experiencing the food riddle known as Ambrosia Salad during an unusual lunch hour, I wanted to respond to the “what did I write?” question with: “My writing style is a juxtaposition of sweet and savoury, much like an Ambrosia Salad. Some days I can position it near the leafy greens in the genre buffet, but other days it belongs near the jello”.

By day three of the conference I wanted to answer that damn question with, “I write paranormal erotica set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic Cormac McCarthy-inspired world”. That answer probably would not have raised an eyebrow.

I was in awe of the pure number of writers, agents and publishers gathered at the conference. Most were women, but there were a few men in attendance: Jack Whyte, Jasper Fforde, Terry Fallis to name(drop) a few.

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Terry Fallis posing for a pic before he begins facilitating his humour writing workshop (which was packed with attendees)

You know how people say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover?”, well….. you can’t judge a writer by their appearance either. I discovered that advanced age does not dim imagination nor can we assume that a 16 year old does not have the capacity to create complex characters and plot lines.

I ascertained that many writers are introverts whereas I am in an extrovert (Surprise!!!). I also found out that even very successful writers are plagued with self-doubt and lack of confidence.

So what does this mean? Why did I go?

I went to Surrey to discover where I fit in and IF I fit into that world.

I am walking away with a feeling of kinship and solidarity. The conference was warm, welcoming and authentic in the support of all writers, regardless of genre and amount of experience.

Will I return? I believe that I will return next year. The workshops were worthwhile, the fellowship was appreciated and the connections made me feel empowered.

Maybe…just maybe I AM a writer after all.