I’m skipping the IWSG question this month in favour of sharing my thoughts on getting out of the writer’s cave and interacting with like-minded folk. What are the benefits and the costs? Well, costs are pretty straight forward – money and time – though if you can carve out a bit of the latter, you don’t necessarily need a whole lot of the former.
Case in point – last weekend I attended the Creative Ink Festival, an annual festival in its third year organized by the indomitable Sandra Wickham. It was held at the Delta Conference Centre in Burnaby, British Columbia and a pass for the three-day weekend cost only $80 Cdn (for American readers, that’s about $59 US). Pretty reasonable for hours of programming (1pm Friday until 5pm Sunday) and a chance to hang out with fellow writers! To stay up-to-date about next year’s event, and ensure you get the best early bird rate, join the Creative Ink Facebook group. Click here.
The benefits of attending a writing-related event are numerous, and include inspiration and the gathering of useful craft and industry information. It is also a chance to meet a wider group of like-minded writers. I sat on a Community Building panel at last weekend’s festival, and Guest of Honour and panel moderator Ken Scholes pointed out that it’s important to our well-being to find our tribe. Fellow writers are our tribe. Meeting your tribe on-line is great, but meeting them in person is even better (even for the introverts – I promise!).
I prefer more relaxed conventions and retreats to the hyper-self-promotion aspects of some pitch-focused conferences. It’s disconcerting to strike up a conversation with a fellow writer only to have the focus of their gaze shift beyond you immediately following the realization you aren’t a publisher, editor or agent. Just try having a conversation with someone who is scanning the room beyond you. Awkward. Of course, this isn’t the behaviour of everyone at these events, but it does seem to be the result of the atmosphere and is not as conducive to building “tribe” connections.
A few other recommendations (this is NOT a comprehensive list)
Cascade Writers – A friendly group of mostly speculative fiction writers in Washington State. I traveled down to a weekend workshop last year and was made to feel very welcome. Check out their upcoming events here.
Pulp Literature – Susan, Jenn and Mel organize a relaxing weekend writing retreat in early January on Bowen Island. The food is great and The Hours writing sessions productive.
Rainforest Writers – Three nights and four days writing at an old-timey resort on the shores of Lake Quinault in the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s a lovely, spooky setting and most of the participants are speculative fiction writers. There are three sessions in February/March. Registration opens first to former participants and those on the previous year’s waitlist. Check out the website for more information.
The Spawning Grounds – Four day, fall writing retreat with author Gail Anderson-Dagartz in Shuswap, BC. Gail is offering this particular retreat for the first time this year (she also runs a summer retreat on Manitoulin Island, Ontario).
For more about IWSG click here.