Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ontario Writer's Conference Recap

This past Saturday I spent the day at the Deer Creek Golf Club in Ajax, Ontario attending the Ontario Writer's Conference.  This was my first writer's conference, so I was unsure what to expect and arrived a little bit nervous.  The weather was warm, and the golf club setting was beautiful.  Every room had a fantastic view, and added a nice touch to the event. 

The day started bright and early, with registration at 8:15 and breakfast at 8:45.  I picked up my conference package, grabbed a muffin and found a seat in the main hall.  I quickly met some other attendees, including a woman who had made the trip down from a small town near North Bay.  I soon realized that many people were also attending alone, and I took the opportunity to strike up some conversations with others seated at the same table.  In the first half hour alone, I met two published authors, and several more unpublished ones like myself.

I participated in three workshops over the course of the day, the first being a session on revising and editing led by Andrew Borkowski.  What I appreciated the most from that session was the opportunity to edit an early draft of the presenter's own piece of writing, and sharing my edits with those of others.   In listening to everyone's changes, I was struck by how many different ways there are to express the same basic thought, as everyone had a different opinion about what to keep, what to cut, and what to rearrange or reword.

The second workshop focused on "The Pitch", and was led by agent Hilary McMahon.  She had great advice for writers looking to find someone to represent their work, as well as for those already published looking to expand their options.  I learned a lot about the industry from her talk and had many of my questions answered. 

The last session was led by Susan Lynn Reynolds, and was completely interactive.  She led the group through a series of writing exercises that introduced me to simple ways of approaching the opening sentences of a story or scene.  She also made me more aware of different types of description, and we practiced incorporating all the senses into our writing.  The hour flew by!

The sessions were broken up with networking sessions, lunch, keynote speakers and book displays.  We were treated to a closing address by Wayson Choy, author of The Jade Peony.  His advice and encouragement were inspiring, engouraging each of us to believe that our work is worth noticing, and to take advantage of every opportunity to have it published or included in magazines, journals, or anthologies. 

He challenged us to go home and do something different, so that at next year's conference we would each have something new and exciting happening with our work. 

I hope I can rise to the challenge!

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