April 9, 2009

The List

After considering suggestions, I've made my reading list for the summer. Not in any particular order, though it is all contingent upon me finishing the beastly-sized, but strangely compelling Blackstrap Hawco. And so...
  1. The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
  2. Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  3. The Orchard Keeper - Cormac McCarthy
  4. The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
  5. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
  6. Sophie's Choice - William Styron
  7. The Devil in the White City - Erik Larson
  8. Long Day's Journey into Night - Eugene O'Neill
  9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
  10. Oil! - Upton Sinclair

April 2, 2009

Kwantlen Writers' Guild Night '09

Following an excellent reading and lecture by Anosh Irani, the Kwantlen Writers' Guild launched its second publication under the theme Totems. What made Irani's talk so refreshing was his back-to-basics approach to writing. I know this past semester I've been far too focused on writing for publication, rather than writing for the joy of telling the story. Sound too Oprah? Probably, but my writing has taken a hit this semester and a lot of it as to do with the idea of writing for success, or another way of thinking about it, writing to avoid failure. Bad move.

Irani talked at great length about perseverance, about how when working on a novel, the first two to three hundred pages he wrote were utter crap, but completely necessary in getting him to the story he needed to tell. So, at the end of a somewhat uninspired semester for me, it was nice to hear someone--and he's a damn fine writer--speak to the simple things I was beginning to forget.

No season ever comes to an end without regrets. Despite my best intentions with the writers' guild, I did not have the overall knowledge of what to anticipate and how to prepare for the entire year. Also, I think I approached it from a place of "authority" rather than of learning--which is never good when you're a student yourself. So, many miles of learning to go for me. The early contest poster, which promised all contest winners the right to publication, resulted in several pieces from hard-working Guild members getting the axe. which pained me considerably. They are a fine bunch of students; intelligent, articulate, funny. To have their efforts not be given due acknowledgment was a downer. So, Lorne Scott, Chelsea Conron, Andrea Purvey, Karen Ezra, Nancy Sayre, Thomas Clay-Smith, Ragav Kumar, Shawn Mitz, Merylee Smith, and Taryn Pearcey--huge thanks to you all, and I doff my hat in apology. Next year, with hopefully a more structured, organized approach, such instances can be eliminated.

That being said, The Guild Publication looks great this year, thanks in part to my wife's work on the cover. Some fine stories in there, and all the contest winners were included. Lee Beavington cleaned house, as did Karen Ezra. Angela Kenyon walked away with the $1000 CRWR scholarship, and deservedly so. Her writing was among the finest of students this semester, and she worked hard. And none of this would have been done without the efforts of Aislinn Hunter, Genni Gunn, and Sheila Hancock. All in all, an enjoyable evening. The final few weeks of class are among us. From there we drift to our own pockets of the world. I'm looking forward to the respite.