Blog No. 322
There is a running joke between Christian and me that during the winter months, whenever we plan on going out and doing something writing adjacent (that would be things related to our writing that do not include actually sitting down and writing) we will face the worst weather of the year. Seeing as our workshop was last Saturday, the joke continues. I will say, we were pretty well ready to go by the Saturday morning. We had several meetings dedicated to building the workshop and going over how we would present the information. Still, I thought it would be prudent to have one last review of the material before we headed to Gertrude’s Writing Room to set up. We planned on hitting the Walkerville Anchor, grabbing a coffee, and skimming our material.
Then, we got on the road. I should clarify that we got on the road a bit late. Christian offered to drive (as he often does when we head into Windsor as he lives farther away than I do). I started to shovel the driveway, thinking I’d get halfway done. I ended up finishing just as Christian pulled up. He has something called a family, which includes children. So, sometimes he has last minute, unexpected catastrophes to handle. Also, I don’t know of you spend much time driving down Malden. It can be a slow, meandering, gauntlet at the best of times. In the first big snowfall, I’m sure it was a parking lot. Either way, he made it (and really, not that far behind schedule). We had plenty of time to get to Anchor, grab a coffee, and head to Gertrude’s (just a block or so away). Even in the bad weather, and even though everyone seems to forget how to drive in the show every year, we made good time, until we reached Walker and E.C. Row. From what I could gather, an anxious driver came off of the expressway a little too quickly and the back end of his vehicle hit a curb, removing one of his wheels (and probably causing other damage not so easily seen).
As you can imagine, driving was slow around there. We didn’t have time to get any coffee, but we still managed to make it to Gertrude’s with a good forty-five minutes before the workshop was scheduled. Thankfully, Vanessa Shields (the host and organizer at Gertrude’s) not only had coffee, she had all kinds of snacks and drinks. I wish I had been smart enough to take a picture. I was too consumed with partaking in the feast to think that far ahead. As we enjoyed the treats, we set up our stuff (I brought an easel and white board) and waited for the participants to arrive. We got started a little behind schedule (due to the weather) but starting late is pretty normal, even when the weather cooperates. The rest is a bit of a blur. We started with some introductions, moved to a section on different types of critiquing (from self to group), talked about working with a partner, and we got into genre fiction (focusing on horror and sci-fi). At that point, we took a break and let the group work on a writing prompt. That was the first of three sections. It was a big class and we didn’t manage our time very effectively. That is something to think about for next time.
From there, we covered short stories, then had another prompt/break, leaving us with just over half an hour for the last section. We flew through the benefits of working with a partner when your writing is done (a section with lots of info, but applicable mostly in the specific type of relationship Christian and I share). I think that last bit of info is good stuff, but it won’t help as many people, so it was okay that we sped through it a bit. We ended the class just over time, but spent a good half hour after chatting and talking shop with everyone. There were only five people in the group (including Vanessa) since one person couldn’t make it due to the weather. They all seemed happy at the end, and their comments were all positive. I think the presentation could use some polish, but that comes with time. I’d be happy to run the workshop again, or even cover another topic (Christian and I have already discussed what else we could do later in the year).
It was a lot of work, but it was fun and the attendees seemed to think it was worth while. I often get asked questions about writing, and I do my best to answer, but it’s difficult to cover everything on the spot and to dedicate a lot of time to helping someone else when you have your own work to do. The workshop was a nice way to share all the things I’ve learned, and get feel like I took part in something exciting too. (Plus a little cash to pay for more books doesn’t hurt). It’s great to see a place like Gertrude’s Writing Room putting these things together (not to say that there aren’t other workshops or classes in the city). One good thing Vanessa provides is a variety of subjects in one location. I’m sure I’ll attend another of those workshops in the future, and I may teach another one some time too. The next event I have is the GenreCon in Guelph on February 9th and 10th, but there is a Biblioasis reading in the works for February 15th, too. You can totally make that one!