Stewart Goodings recalls his experience as a past participant in a Writer in Residence workshop, and introduces this year’s Writer in Residence – Steven Price.
I remember how nervous I was at the first session of the Writer in Residence program two years ago. Here I was, in a group of strangers, with a renowned Canadian writer, Steven Galloway at the head of the table.
I’d done a lot of writing in my career in the civil service, but none of it could be considered creative fiction …. well, some people might have thought some of my briefings to Minister were pretty fictional, but you know what I mean …. now in this room at the Arts Centre on Denman Island, I’d have to expose my humble efforts at story-telling to criticism, not only from other writers, probably all more skillful than me, but also from a guy who had published three novels, one of which, “The Cellist of Sarajevo”, had received international recognition.
But I have to say it turned out to be a wonderful experience. First of all, Galloway was a thoughtful listener, generous in his comments to all of us, and gave me some very practical advice about how I could improve the short story I had submitted for review. Secondly, the other WIR participants were congenial company, and willing to give positive feedback to each other. We learned a lot of “technique”, but more important, we were inspired to continue writing and to believe that we had some ability to turn our draft efforts into interesting prose.
This to me is one of the great features of the Writer in Residence program – it gives aspiring writers a chance to learn from others and especially from a successful and respected author.
And this year, the Festival is lucky to have another accomplished writer and teacher to lead the WIR – Steven Price, from the University of Victoria creative writing department. With two books of poetry and a novel published in recent years, plus several years of mentoring students at UVIC, he’s a great addition to the Denman Festival.
What an opportunity to get hands-on wisdom from an experienced writer, and to benefit from the collegial support of like-minded writing hopefuls.
Over five mornings, with time in the afternoons to read others’ work, and to fine-tune your own writing, the WIR is an intense but rewarding experience. Then, as the WIR winds up on the Friday, everyone can relax and enjoy listening and meeting ten other renowned authors in solo sessions and panels for the rest of the Festival weekend.
Why, I’ve almost convinced myself to sign up again ….. Stewart Goodings.
Posted April 2014