I didn’t post last weekend while I was at the CCWWP founding conference, though anyone who follows me on Twitter cannot have failed to notice my incessant tweeting about it. Many jokes were made about the CCWWP needing to be on the back of a Cold War–era hockey jersey. It stands for Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs, and an association just formed last weekend at a gathering of roundabouts 100 creative writing instructors (also writers, in their other lives) from across Canada.
It was a fantastic conference for many reasons. You can get the highlights from scrolling back in my Twitter feed. The three keynote addresses by Greg Hollingshead, Aritha van Herk, and Rosemary Sullivan were appropriately show-stealing. (There’s nothing worse than a keynote that you wish you’d skipped; such addresses make it seem like conference organizers have no idea what they are doing; but no such issues here.)
The overall sentiment I took away: stop blaming all things “e” for killing reading, writing, publishing, and the book. It’s an industry/art/life perpetually in peril. Get over it and just write a good book.
CCWWP was also probably the most soul-renewing thing I’ve done for a while, since one of the great ironies of teaching writing is that you don’t really have time to be a writer any more. Stephanie Bolster discussed this last point in the conference’s closing panel, and quoted Margaret Atwood’s assertion that you can’t be a mother, a writer, and have a job: you can only choose two. Stephanie argued that you can do all three, just, er, not all at the same time. (I had to take my baby to the conference and get my mom to crash in my hotel room for childcare.)
It was like it had been so long since I had been among my people, I had forgotten that I missed them. And it really made me want to work on my next book, which balances precariously on the edge of a bookshelf in my cubicle in several disorganized piles of drafts in different stages of discompletion (sigh; maybe next summer).
National conferences these days: a good way of actually putting real faces to Facebook profiles. Besides meeting a bunch of people I’d previously met only electronically, I also reacquainted myself with writers I hadn’t seen in 10 or 15 years—or more, in the case of Lynne Van Luven, whom I recalled had interviewed me about my high school creative writing anthology when she ran the book pages at the Edmonton Journal.
It looks like Toronto in 2012. Go writers!
PS My photos sucked so I’m not posting any.