Surfeit and Link-O-Rama

I've written before about participating in a local writing community, but since I can't get the blog's search function to load, you'll have to take my word for it.

Writing communities, and their value, can inspire differences of opinion among writers. I can see both sides: communities can be useful, and they can also be distractions from doing the work. During the seven years I've been in the process of moving here, living here, and adjusting to life here, I've found it useful to keep company with other writers.

With some writers, at some times, for some purposes.

Sometimes I feel that I know more about writing than I have actually practiced, and so I don't seek out new insights, "how to" articles, workshops, or opportunities to learn about writing. Instead, I focus on taking apart writing (my own). Applying what I know. Trying things.

Sometimes I attend readings and workshops simply to be in the same room with many people who think writing is important -- important to read and important to do. Also, my physical presence in a room can be important to someone else. My support for her courage in sharing her work at a reading can help her confirm that she is (or not) on the right track. And I end up learning, in the same way that I learn from a close, analytical read of someone else's work. The Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW) hosts a reading and a workshop nearly every month, so I have plenty of opportunity to support others, and myself, in this way.

And sometimes I attend events ready to learn. (More links!)

This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, NOWW kicked off a special Electronic Writer-in-Residence program, featuring the lovely and talented Elizabeth Ruth. I learned a lot this past weekend, PLUS I'll have the chance, after I revise, to get her feedback on the revision!!

At the same time, the International Festival of Authors sponsored an event in Thunder Bay, in coordination with the Thunder Bay Public Library and the Northern Woman's Bookstore. Writers James Bartleman, Johanna Skibsrud, and Jane Urquhart read to an over-capacity crowd last night, and there's a follow-up workshop with Skibsrud at the university today.

Tomorrow night is one of NOWW's regular readings and features writing for children and young adults.

Wednesday night is a book launch at the local art gallery -- Tristan Hughes, who divides time between Atikokan, Ontario (just up the road from Thunder Bay) and Wales, has set his recent book, Eye Lake, in Atikokan. It would be worth going to the launch in any case, but a couple of people have raved about the book, so it should be an extra-fun event.

I just hope I'm not completely glassy-eyed by Wednesday evening. Because in addition to the events themselves, I've been meeting people -- people from this community who I can't believe I haven't met before.

Like Susan Payetta, who sometimes lives in the Caribbean, who created Sail Rock Publishing and brought out Edward Kent's memoir of Caribbean life, Up Before Dawn.

Like Graham Strong, whose name I now remember seeing around town in a professional writing capacity and who is now also working on a novel.

Like the people in Elizabeth Ruth's workshop on Saturday, many of whom I "knew" before -- but now I've heard them talk about their work and heard their ideas for moving forward in their writing.

Like Jane Urquhart, though "meeting" is probably too strong a word for "handing her a couple of books to sign," and "from this community" is likely an inaccurate way to represent her childhood in a small mining town near Beardmore. However. I will also "meet" Johanna Skibsrud by attending her workshop, and I will "meet" Tristan Hughes by attending his launch (and possibly handing HIM a book to sign, too).

There have been so many activities that I would use the word "surfeit," except that when I checked the dictionary definitions, many go beyond "borderline excess" to "TOO MUCH, so much you feel disgust." I am definitely not disgusted! I do feel a bit...overloaded? At a tipping point?

And perhaps a bit nostalgic, if it's possible to be so in advance.

Because this weekend, I'll be leaving this physical community for a couple of months. (Hi robbers! Our vicious attack dogs will hungrily greet you if you try anything!!) I've written here before about my brother and his need for a stem cell donor. His transplant got underway last week and is by all accounts going well. But his wife needs to tend to business back home, and I'll be her backup, off and on, through December.

Yes, I'm taking writing. Yes, the miracles of technology make it possible for me to stay in touch and participate remotely. (And yes, I'll still probably appear here.)

I'm enjoying this whirlwind of activity, even though it threatens at times to blow my head right off. The writers, the times, and the purposes for participating in the writing community have all been in alignment this month. And I will miss it!