October 21-22, 2006.
The first day of the workshop was devoted to the author sharing the insights into the writing life that he learned through his experiences.
One of the most helpful stories shared (for me) concerned Nino’s struggles through graduate school. I was still grappling with a pretty powerful “guardian at the gate” of my own and his tale gave me hope and inspiration. Not to be overly dramatic, but it spoke to my writer’s soul.
While working on his graduate degree at York University, Nino’s advisor was none other than W.O. Mitchell. He’d given Nino some negative feedback, but Nino, though discouraged, determined to find his own way through the novel.
We all have our gatekeepers to circumvent, and if a Governor-General’s Award winner could be successful despite his, then it gave me hope that I might be able to as well.
On the second day, we workshopped our poetry, short stories, and novel excerpts. I received some excellent feedback and to this day, I credit the workshop with inspiring my own rededication to the writing life. You may remember last week, I mentioned that I’d been writing agnostic for years …
After this workshop, I dedicated myself to daily writing practice in a way I frankly never had before. Despite work and other life challenges, I had my first draft finished just under two years later. It may not seem like a monumental accomplishment, but it was the first full draft of a novel I’d ever written. It taught me a lot, and I have Nino Ricci to thank for it, at least in part.