It’s been a month and a bit of me posting on the weekends, but here we are, at last, at the end of the CanWrite! run.
The CAA Literary Awards Gala
This was held the night of Saturday, June 21st.
The night previous, we’d heard several of the nominees read from their works. All were excellent.
Here’s a post about the award winners.
The highlight of the evening was Keynote speaker, Mariatu Kamara, who, along with Susan McClelland, wrote her harrowing story of survival, resilience, and hope.
Of course, I picked up a copy of the book, The Bite of the Mango, and got it signed by the authors.
It was a night of wonderful stories shared and writerly camaraderie.
Other stuff that happened
The CanWrite! conferences are set up with all sorts of interesting activities.
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings, there were meditation sessions (which I did not attend), yoga sessions (which I did), and writers’ circles in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction (which I attended last year, but not this), pitch sessions (which I did not participate in), photo sessions (which I participated in last year, but not this), and walking tours (which I opted out of).
In the evenings on Thursday and Friday, there were readings with open mic segments. I read at both, but since the reading time was capped at three minutes, I did not read much 😉
There were workshops on Wednesday, one on fiction, one on poetry, and one on non-fiction. I had initially signed up for the fiction one, but the facilitator had to cancel.
On Wednesday night, there was a wine and cheese reception.
There were also two to four other sessions or workshops held each of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons which I could not attend without benefit of a time turner 🙂
Finally, there was the book fair. You know what I did there, don’t you?
It’s an addiction
Thoughts on conferences and conventions
This brings me to preparing to attend a conference.
First, as with everything else that has to do with writing, you have to do your research.
What kind of conference or convention is it? I’ve attended three CanWrite! Conferences, an Algonkian Pitch conference, the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, an Ad Astra convention, and will be attending When Words Collide next weekend. All of them have been different.
Some conferences are set up as a kind of writers’ retreat with swaths of time for independent writing, group work (by genre – and here I’m talking poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and plays/screenplays), individual assessment (usually by the group facilitator), and social/networking opportunities (dinners, readings, etc.).
Pitch conferences focus almost exclusively on the pitch sessions, with all other workshops serving to prepare the pitchers and their pitches for their sessions.
Most conferences are set up with one-hour or two-hour sessions throughout the day and evening with short breaks in between to address biological imperatives like bathroom visitations and snack purchases. Each time slot will have multiple options for the attendee and reviewing the program ahead of time is of paramount importance. These conferences will also have pitch sessions (for an extra cost), blue pencil sessions (for an extra cost), photo sessions (extra cost), readings, and other social events. There will often be some kind of buffet, or gala dinner. Keynote speakers will be featured after meals, and there will be book launches/signings, after-hours parties, book fairs, and so forth. These are the writerly smorgasbords/marathons that you will have to navigate carefully to avoid utter exhaustion.
Conventions take the conference model and add even more geekery to the mix with LEGO salons, costume balls/masquerades, anime theatres, arts lounges, vendors, astronomy sessions, readings, and karaoke. The convention sessions are primarily panels, however, and not focused workshops, though workshops may be offered for an extra cost. The big reception or gala/keynote dinner will often also be an extra cost.
Conferences are usually expensive, with a fee in the hundreds of dollars. Conventions are nominally priced, but all the extras are on a pay per participate basis. Accommodation and transportation are always additional costs.
Mel’s tips for travel and accommodation: use hotel and travel rewards programs to lessen these expenses, where possible.
So, do your research, decide what you want to do, and go prepared. Most conferences and conventions will have their programs online months in advance, so you can plan what to attend and budget for the experience.
So, CanWrite! is a wrap, just in time for WWC 🙂
Today’s second post will have to be deferred until next weekend. I’m heading out to my sister-in-law’s shortly for a family BBQ.
Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!