Post-When Words Collide 2016

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As I’m typing, it’s been roughly 22 hours since I left When Words Collide 2016. The end of the festival is always bittersweet because I love the energy and excitement about writing I get out of all of the presentations, but I also love that I get to go home and rest my tired brain after two and a half days of information inundation.

I walked out of the Delta South’s Atrium building with a million useful thoughts floating around my subconscious that I cannot wait to start implementing here and there. And after a soak in an epsom salt and grapefruit guava bubble bath and nearly 11 hours of sleep I feel ready to start making my move.

Without going into specific topic discussion, which I’ll be saving for later blog posts, I’ll cover a few things that are worth mentioning about this year’s WWC experience.

One, I learned something important about myself as a person this weekend following some interactions with people and one panel in particular: I very much need to retrain my brain out of the binary indoctrination it has gone through over the past 25 years. The panel I attended was called All the Colours: Authenticity and Sensitivity in Writing LGBTQ+ Characters. Aside from the excellent notes I walked away with about how to avoid the clichés inherent to LGBTQ+ characters and a better understanding of how such characters are currently represented in mainstream culture, I learned a lot about the basis of identity.

I’m not such an oaf that I think people can only be male or female, thankfully, I am an enlightened person of the 21st century. And while I am aware of pronoun use and the adoption of “they” as an identifier by some members of the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve never put the pronoun to use. After putting my foot in my mouth this weekend, I am doing my damnedest to retrain my brain so that I don’t insult people (again). I’m smart, I can rewire.

Two, after a conversation in the merchant room with a fellow writer friend I finally managed to bump into, I realized something else about myself: I’ve really grown as a writer! After being asked what types of panels I had been attending over the weekend and a brief moment of thought my answer was, “all the ones with topics that spoke to me that weren’t how-to’s on writing.” I realized in that moment that I felt confident enough in myself, knew enough about my writing and writing style, and what works for me that I didn’t need to attend those types of presentations anymore. That was a heck of a confidence boost! Her answer was the same, for the record.

Third, my favourite panel of the weekend had to be The Stage Can Help Your Page, mostly because Marty Chan is hilarious and I laughed the hardest and longest in his panel. I also walked away with some excellent playwriting tips that I fully intend to implement in my novel writing. I will admit that Writing About Fighting was a close second because of Sandra Wickham’s demos. I am so grateful I walked out of all the panels I attended with food for thought; they were all highly informative.

Finally, my least favourite moment of the weekend had to be Saturday morning. Not only did I leave my house late because I did not have myself properly organized the night before, I also forgot my lunch. This may seem like a no biggie to people, but understand this: in 17 years of school, in 9 years of working, I’ve forgotten my lunch twice. I have a certain attachment to food….I must have food with me. Even if I don’t end up eating it I need to know it’s there. If I forget my lunch, my day is inevitably ruined. It’s an anxiety thing.

I tried my best to be a mature adult about it, and although there was some intense ranting while I was driving and an unsuccessful scramble to get one of my parents to bring it to me, I did pretty good. I persevered, and the group lunch I went on that day turned into a giggle fest with a spurting hose and overly friendly bees.

Last weekend was exhausting in the best sense of the word. When Words Collide is always a humbling and inspiring event. Plus, I left with a light -yet awesome- haul this year!

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