What a weekend!
I’ve written about the Thessalon launch at the Shepherd in Residence blog. Here I’d like to talk a bit about the two workshops.
After the sumptuous dinner Friday night, courtesy of our own Dr. Blois, I had to haul myself out of bed at eight the next morning to teach. Since my usual sleep schedule is now 3 a.m. to 11 a.m., this was no small feat. I’d anticipated it, however, and gone to bed at midnight, so I was good!
I arrived at Zion United Church, fed, dressed and as prepared as I was going to be, to find the place all set up with tables out for the workshop and coffee and home-baked munchies for the participants and the teacher. Coffee cake, cinnamon buns, pecan squares, all laid out to keep us from fainting with hunger while we worked.
The morning workshop was how to write humour. Humour writing can be learned, and if you had any doubt of it, all you’d have had to do was be a fly on the wall in that class. We laughed a lot! When the read-around went, there were many suggestions from the participants, not just from me. It was so great to hear everyone’s humour synapses snapping! One of the hardest things about that class is keeping the confidentiality that is so important in a writing group, because the work that came out of that morning was so funny I wanted to share it. I really hope that some of it will surface at an open mike in the future!
In the afternoon the Writer’s Dominatrix came out to teach some grammar, diction and punctuation points. That one went over well, too, with lots of discussion about the things that trip people up, grammatically speaking. I realize that for many people the ideas of “fun”, “lively” and “grammar and punctuation” don’t go together, but you wouldn’t have known that from the Saturday afternoon crowd! Again, lots of laughter, lots of lively discussion. My mother loved grammar, and she somehow passed that love along to me, but so many people see it as a nuisance and a bore. To me, it’s the way you make your writing invisible so that people can get lost in your story.
That class was also a great excuse to buy a twelve-colour pack of Sharpie markers, even though I wound up using only the dark colours to make things easy for people to see. Life is hard. Now I have all these great coloured markers, and I’m just going to have to find something to do with them!
As for the launch that night, I came to a conclusion about the etiquette of autographing. How do you autograph a book to someone you know well? Doesn’t it seem a little silly to write, “Elizabeth Creith” when you’ve sung in the same choir, laughed over many coffees or grown up in the same house with the person for whom you’re signing the book?
My conclusion is this: maybe it does seem silly, but I’m going to do it anyway. An autograph personalizes the book, and is a record of an encounter between the author and the owner. So I sign “Elizabeth Creith” when I’m autographing, and hang the consequences.
It was an incredible day, and an incredible night. I am now a mid-career author, with one appearance at a literary festival to my credit. The kicker is that the whole thing, while it was work, too, was such an unbelievable amount of fun. It doesn’t get better than that.