Inspiration at the 2016 Denman Festival

For Festival attendees who write or want to write, there will be five opportunities at this year’s Festival to get some intensive advice from published authors.

Steven Price, the acclaimed Victoria-based author, will again, for the third year in a row, lead The Writing Week (formerly known as the Writer in Residence program).  This is a five day – four hours a day – workshop held July 11-15 in the Arts Centre with a maximum of ten participants.  Price has written well-reviewed fiction and poetry, and his latest novel, “By Gaslight”, with an international book deal, is due to be published this summer. He’s also been a creative writing instructor at UVIC for the last several years.  I was a participant in this program last year and found Price to be a superb mentor, editor, and thoughtful advisor for my work, and for that of other participants.  The ratings from participants in his program have been excellent and the additional benefit of being part of the program is that as well as Steven’s advice, you have nine other eager and positive writers willing to constructively critique your work and listen to your feedback on their stories. The fee for this five day workshop is $350, so it is a significant investment in one’s writing, but for those seriously interested in improving their writing or wanting to get valuable feedback on work in progress, it is well worth the money. Then there are the 3-hour workshops held during the festival July 14-16.  While less intensive than The Writing Week, these workshops also offer great advice and suggestions for attendees.  And this year the four workshops to be offered represent quite a diverse set of subjects from self-publishing to writing essays, to creating sound-based memoirs, to writing jokes.  Here are the details: Denman’s own Jo-Anne McLean will lead a workshop titled Prepping for Self-Publication on the basics of self-publishing.  An author with four published novels in the fantasy genre to her credit, Jo-Anne is now a publisher herself and will draw on years of self-publishing experience to help participants through the intricacies of this relatively recent means of getting one’s work published. From Vancouver, Charles Demers, radio personality, stand-up comedian and author of “The Horrors: An A to Z of Funny Thoughts about Awful Things”, will present a workshop, We’re Only Joking on writing for comedic purposes, with a particular focus on how to write jokes.  Participants will be able to share their work.  Laughter is inevitable.

J.B. (James) MacKinnon, journalist and author of several non-fiction books, the most recent of which is “The Once and Future World: Finding Wilderness in the Nature We’ve Made” will share his writing tips in a workshop Say Your Piece:  Essay Writing for Today’s Reader, which is designed to help participants bring freshness, coherency and literary style to their work. Finally, an innovation for Denman Festival workshops: the performance artist and poet Barbara Adler’s workshop is called Soundtrack for an Imaginary Landscape: Creative Audio Memoirs.  The aim is to enable participants “to combine spoken word with found sounds to create an audio memoir inspired by the landscape and the music hidden all around us”.  A laptop will be needed for this workshop. These four workshops are $60 each, and registration is now open at the Festival website