In my last post, I talked about Write! Canada, describing the continuing class I took as well as the three workshops I attended. There was more!
We had three Keynotes, with a different speaker for each:
Stained glass windows from Church of St. John Evangelist – Elora, ON
Keynote 1 – singer, songwriter Ali Matthews
Matthews spoke of inspiration. She said:
- Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. Own it. Own the gift. God will not anoint who you want to be but who you already are.
- You don’t need to apologize for the gifts you’ve been given, only apologize for not using them.
- When you humbly and intentionally reach out with your gift, you are glorifying God.
- Our calling is to be an inspiration, to be life and breath, salt and light.
Keynote 2 – Carolyn Weber (professor and author of the memoir Surprised by Oxford)
Here are a few snippets of her wisdom, shared before she read a segment of her writing.
- There is nothing naive about cultivating an innocent heart.
- The only real success is faithfulness.
- Once you’ve heard the gospel, you can never unhear it.
- Five golden rules for memoir writing:
1. Pay attention to your life. Look at its intricacies. Cultivate discipline about journaling.
2. Treat others as you would want to be treated.
3. Never write from anger or unresolved issues. Write through the deep feelings to the other side but no one ever has to see that draft.
4. Put the first draft into a golden chest. It’s a cathartic draft that takes you to a place of grace about others.
5. With a spiritual memoir, ask for five distinct points of view: two professionals (formal editor, professor, fellow writer etc.) to look at theology, references, actual function of the writing; three personal—including someone from your family for feedback, to ensure that you have written with respect, to corroborate details; a spouse or close friend; and an unbelieving friend or spouse to know how the work resounds beyond the faith community.
Keynote 3 – Dennis Hassel (playwright and actor of Dennis Hassel Productions)
Dennis delivered the final keynote–the last event of the conference. He was in fine dramatic form, taking on the persona of various characters and their viewpoints. He said:
- There is message and theme in good fiction.
- Bits from life are quilted into a realistic design, warm and able to keep people in stitches. Live your ordinary life fully and at the same time see it as material.
- It’s impossible to know what of your experience will become part of your story. What are you breathing in? What literature are you reading?
- All you have to decide is “What are you going to do with the time that is left you?”
- It’s easier to talk about prayer than to pray… easier to talk about writing than to write.
- A writer is not called to successfulness but faithfulness
Of course the lectures, workshops, and keynotes were only a part of the rich conference experience. A another highlight was meeting friends in the flesh that I have only ever met online. Whoever I talked to, there was an immediate common bond. “What do you write?” was bound to start a stimulating conversation.
“Birds of a Feather” – Sculpture by various artists – Elora ON
I am truly thankful for The Word Guild and the knowledge that there is a network of writers, editors, and publishers across Canada who are Christian. The conference organizers and army of volunteers deserve huge kudos for again putting together a chock-full and worthwhile weekend.
Now to get back to the work of writing (even though it sometimes feels like building castles in the air)!
Scene from my window on the flight home