I spent most of the weekend just past with fellow writers attending Write! Vancouver, sponsored by The Word Guild. We met in the beautiful Tapestry facility (in Wesbrook Village on the UBC campus). It was a Friday night and all-day-Saturday crammed with inspiring speakers and interactions with fellow scribes.
Friday Night Soiree – Faithfulness is no excuse for sloth:
The Friday night soiree was a panel discussion titled ‘Faithfulness’ is no excuse for sloth: Why God expects excellence. On the panel were John Stackhouse (Regent College professor) and Marc Cote (publisher Cormorant Books), with moderator Lesley Bentley.
Here are a few bits from my notes:
J. Stackhouse: “Excellence is a function of humility. Humility is understanding where you are in the scheme of things. … Excellence needs to be a function of your particular calling. But the pursuit of excellence can be paralyzing. Submit to reality and hone your craft.”
M. Cote: “It’s not just putting in the 10,000 hours, but 10,000 hours well applied.”
M. Cote: “If you chase the market you’ll never catch up… Write to an audience, not to the market.”
J. Stackhouse: When writing his book on evil, in order to get out of his head as an academic, he envisioned his audience as six reader-types he wanted to communicate with. He measured success of each chapter by whether he could foresee them getting value from it.
When discussing the question of whether one has an obligation to write if the inspiration is there:
M. Cote: “Carve out those hours and write. Non-writers won’t do that. Bend (don’t force) your life so that you have time to write. Don’t tweet, check Facebook etc. … Everyone needs a room of one’s own—that room may be in your head. Challenge yourself to write short and well. You can’t write well unless you read well. Good language will stay in your head.”
Re: success—do sales numbers matter?
Ans. (don’t remember who said it): Define what success will look like for you. Sales are one of the least reliable indicators of success.
In the days ahead, I’ll rehash some of the wisdom I heard in the Word Becomes Flesh: Writing For the Stage workshop with Ron Reed, and the Permission to Write, and Journaling panels.