New writers are grrrreat!

Just this past weekend, I was at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, which brings together new and established writers for workshop and panel discussions and socializing in the hope that we can all learn from each other. It’s usually pretty daunting for me to try to teach anyone anything. Often I feel that my career as a writer has mostly been spent careening from one crisis to another and that all my decisions have been reactionary.

“What?” I said, in response to kindly feedback from Mary and June. “I need to give my main character a name?” Yes, this conversation totally happened and, yes, it was only when prodded that I named poor Sammy in The End of East.

But as it turns out, my experiences in writing and publishing needed to be passed on. I’ve always said that the publishing process can be very opaque. A lot of the time, no one tells you anything, and you are left flailing in the dark while your book is forlornly making its way through editing, marketing and sales. I don’t want any other authors to feel like this ever again. So I ended up with a lot to say. And I learned a lot from these new writers who are just starting to organize their careers. I was impressed with their professionalism, their openness to new ideas and, most of all, the quality of the writing that I read in my Blue Pencil sessions. Without exception, the samples were polished, thoughtful and individual. If only I had approached my early career with such clear-eyed vision. Imagine what I might have done!

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know, which I am not because I just heard of this four weeks ago), and now is the time to start that book that has been sitting in your head, growing in imaginary size. Write it! Love it! Proofread with abandon!

If you’re the type of writer who needs a bit of outside motivation (as I am, because I would never have written a damned thing if I hadn’t declared to everyone I knew in Grade 5 that I was going to be an author; I never thought that they would allremember and hold me accountable), then I have some friends who might be able to help you.

My friend June Hutton is heading a workshop at UBC Robson tailor-made for those attempting to write their novels in a month. Click here for registration details.

Mary Novik will be Writer-in-Residence at the West Vancouver Memorial Libraryduring NaNoWriMo, and will be offering free consultations Click here to register.

So now you have no excuses, right?

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