Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz June 8-14, 2014

Right now, I’m down in Orillia, Ontario, attending CanWrite! 2014. Started the day with a light breakfast and yoga, and I’m going to get Thoughty Thursday out before the sessions start up after lunch. Life is good.

Dame Judy Dench and Daniel Craig explore the question: Are we truly equal? See what you think . . .

What’s new in the war on Alzheimer’s Disease? from the Psychiatric Times.

Why we need creative confidence from

The quest to understand consciousness, a TED talk by Antonio Damasio.

Let these stunning photos of incredible storms inspire you. Also from

More inspirational ideas from i09: 12 futuristic forms of government that could one day rule the world.

All our patent are belong to you (did you catch the pop culture reference?). Tesla Motors makes its patents open source.

The most important sci-fi film never made from the Japan Times. Jodorowsky’s vision of Dune launched the careers of several notables in the field, including Geiger, and influenced moviemaking to the current day. I really want to see this documentary now.

Wired’s absurd creature of the week: the lion’s mane jellyfish. When I visited the Vancouver Aquarium last fall, they were featuring jellyfish. Apparently, they really do like global warming.

This week was pretty thoughty 🙂

Enjoy, my writerly friends, and I hope you garner some inspiration for your writing from this crop of curation.

Thoughty Thursday

Lauren Carter: Deep Character Workshop, Oct. 6, 2013

I spent the afternoon with Lauren Carter, her mother, Laura (a visual artist with a good feel for story), and five other wonderful writers talking, and writing, about character.

SwarmcoverLauren is on a tour to promote her literary dystopian novel, Swarm, which was released in September by Brindle & Glass publishing.  She’s been to Orillia and Blind River (both places she used to live), and has made a stop in Sudbury for a couple of days before she heads south to continue her journey.

As part of her Sudbury leg, Lauren agreed to offer a writing workshop for the Canadian Authors Association Roving Writers program.  Tomorrow night, she will be giving a reading at the south end branch of the Greater Sudbury Public Library as part of the Luminaries reading series.

Lauren indicated that nothing she had to teach was proprietary and so I’m going to offer a bit of a run down of her workshop.

  • Lauren is a firm believer that there are no rules in writing.
  • People come to writing as artists – organically.
  • Character is important in prose, even in plot-based fiction, someone has to be at the heart of the action.
  • The reader (and therefore the writer) must know those characters intimately.
  • Each writer will have her or his approach.
  • All great art begins at a point of absolute confusion.
  • Writers make decisions about their characters.

Eric Maisel – characters are not people, they are in the novel to serve the writer.

We then reviewed two writing samples: Matadora, by Elizabeth Ruth and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  We looked at the clues the writers offered about their characters, their backgrounds, the techniques used to engage the reader in the character, how descriptions were used, and so forth.

Lauren passed out a character development questionnaire put together by Kathy Page.  We didn’t use it, however.  Not yet.

Then followed the first of several writing assignments.  This first focused on character description.

Next, we wrote specifically about a possession or place specific to the character, like a purse, car, or room.

Then we focused in on a specific object within the last writing assignment and worked with that.

Finally, after having gotten to know our characters a bit better, Lauren guided us back to the questionnaire and focused the next writing assignment on that.  Having written through a few iterations of describing our characters through physicality, place, and possessions, it was not easier to enter into the details of the list and discover even more.

The last writing assignment took all that we’d learned about our characters and focused on plot. This was set up by another reading from Eric Maisel about “The writer as Experimental Psychologist” taken from his book, What Would your Character Do?

Essentially, plot is a matter of answering three questions:

  1. What does the character want?
  2. Why does the character want it?
  3. How will the character achieve his or her goal (or not)?

After that, it’s a matter of the author rigorously testing the hypothesis she or he has developed until all three questions are answered satisfactorily.

So first, we explored our characters’ psychological make-up; then, we answered the first of the three questions.

Each writing assignment was a free-write and delivered with the instruction to follow the writing wherever it led.  In several cases the characters did, as they are notoriously known to do, their own things 😉

It was a good workshop, and I was happy to have been part of it.

CanWrite! 2013: The arrival

Though events and sessions weren’t scheduled to get under way until June 13, strictly speaking, I’m pretty keen to show up and get ready.  I need a little time to rev up and get in the social way of things.  Any conference is pretty much a social marathon for however many days it lasts.  I have to work up to it.

My home for the week

My home for the week

Orillia is a little over three hours away from Sudbury.  I took the full day off on the 12th and relaxed for the morning, picked up my rental car, packed, and got underway just shy of 2 pm.

CanWrite! was hosted this year, as last, by the Orillia campus of Lakehead University.  It is a small campus, but it is a fairly recent construction.  I checked in, unpacked, and collapsed for a few minutes before heading out to my fend-for-yourself supper, returning in time to attend the welcome reception.

At the reception, I reconnected with some old acquaintances and made some new ones.  Among the old were Jake Hogeterp, who heads the virtual branch, Matt Bin, the prez, poet-on-demand, Jean Kay, Lamont Mackay of The Cooking Ladies, and Anita Purcell, our tireless Jacqueline-of-all-trades.  Among the new, Jennie Chabon and Kathleen Schmitt from BC and John McDonell from Nova Scotia.

Though I thought I was heading back to my room early, it was after ten by the time I made it up, and nearly midnight by the time I’d checked my precious social media (SoMe) and powered down for the evening.

The creative writing circles

Each morning of the first three days started off after breakfast with writing circles.  Either poetry or creative writing could be chosen.  Of course, I went for the creative writing.

The first morning, Ruth Walker led the session.  The second and third days were led by Sue Reynolds.

I’m not going to go into detail about these sessions, as the writing done is always intensely personal, but great material was produced all three days by all the participants.

I got some work done on some missing pieces of Initiate of Stone while I was there and that, along with some bits that might produce good stories, made the circles worthwhile for me.

Ruth was new to me, but I’d met Sue before.  I went to the University of Guelph with her sister, Sandy, and then I met her and her partner James last year at the Algonkian conference.

Other bits and pieces

Initially, I was a little concerned.  I could find no information on the Lakehead U site that would tell me what kind of internet would be available.  I’d hoped to try Tweeting some of the sessions.

When I checked in, I was advised that wifi was limited to the common areas of the residence building and required a password, but that I would be able to “plug in” up in my room.

In my room, I looked for a network cable, but couldn’t find one.  It took the kindness of Jean Kay to reveal the secret: the cable was coiled up and tucked into the base of the telephone.

So one problem solved, but the next day, when I attended the first panel discussion, I discovered that there was no signal in the academic building at all.  Bummer.

The food proved very good and was one of the consistent positives of the conference.

The rooms were nice, but the beds were a little harder than was comfortable.  Such is residence life.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin to document the panels and sessions for you.

Until then *waves*

The Next Chapter: Overwhelmed or underwhelmed?

You may have noticed that I have been a little quiet here on Writerly Goodness lately.  What’s the deal? you ask. Fair question.

One piece of the puzzle is that I am a little overwhelmed right now.  I’ve taken on a submission challenge that I probably won’t meet, and several courses, that while excellent, have also eaten up a good chunk of my creative time.

I’m trying to prepare two short stories for submission at the end of the week, and one of them has yet to be finished.  I know.  I’m stressed. 😦

I’m also working through the next revision of my work in progress and this coming week, I’m on the road for work again.  I rarely finish the things I need to get done while I’m travelling.

The other piece is that I haven’t been taking advantage of all the interesting creative things coming my way.  I haven’t been motivated.  The time issue may be part of it, but I suspect that the overwhelm and stress has left me a bit down in the last bit.

This is about to change.  I’m going to make contact with a few people this weekend to see if I can arrange for some interviews, and in a couple of weeks, my creative event schedule is getting underway, starting with Sudbury Wordstock, June 7 and 8, 2013.

Then I’m off to the Canadian Authors Association CanWrite! Conference in Orillia, June

English: Waterfront of Orillia, Ontario, Canada

English: Waterfront of Orillia, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12-16.  I’d like to catch a Chi Series reading on the 12th as well, because one of my all-time favourite writers, Guy Gavriel Kay, will be reading that night.  I just don’t know if I can do both in such a short turn-around.

Other writerly goodness on deck: an interview with Barbara Kyle (which I’m very pleased about), and possibly something of a departure that I don’t want to spill the beans about in case it doesn’t pan out.  I’ll also be blogging my experience in Margie Lawson’s course, and, on the learning mutt side of things, my first training for trainers experience (where I’m headed this week).

When I get my outdoor office set up, I’ll probably show that off too, with the new view sans birches.

Later in the summer, I’m hoping to head to When Worlds Collide in Calgary (might be

Chinook arch over the city of Calgary, Alberta...

Chinook arch over the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

hooking up with an editor/writer friend for this and meeting a couple of other writerly friends on site), and in the fall, I’ll be taking off to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference where a whole pile of authors, agents, and editors I follow will be.

Having put off the migration to and a self-hosted site, I’ve turned my attention to adding video or podcast elements to my blog.  Not sure how soon that might happen.  I have to put my techie hat on for that.  And the site revamp is still lurking.  Once again, I just need the time to spend a day or two and dedicate myself to the changes.

There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening, I’ve just yet to get excited about it 😉  It’s kind of creeping up on me, though.  I just wish I had more time off to get everything done (!)

So I’m not really underwhelmed, I’m just under-invested at the moment.

Summer will be here before I know it!

One Sundog Snippet yet to come this week.  See y’all soon!