I wasn’t able to attend this year’s Inscribe Writer’s Conference although I did attend for the first time two years ago and then again last year. In truth I haven’t really attended many conferences on writing throughout the year but if you include a few workshops here and there, a couple of writers groups etc., and a couple of sit ins as a reporter at the annual Moose Jaw Festival of Words (well worth attending) to hear an author or two read, than maybe I have something to add to this month’s topic on attending conferences etc.
Recently I saw something online that suggested writers are either an ‘architect’ or a ‘gardener’ when it comes to their work, the architect being one who steadily builds a framework for their story before they begin with beginning, ending, plot and characters all neatly worked out if not on paper than in their head. The gardener as a writer is less about following each step and more about scattering seeds amongst the soil, weeding out the plants (ideas) that don’t thrive and watering those that do. Often this type of writer doesn’t know where the story will end up exactly but still with care and discipline can end up with a great final product.
I tend towards being a gardener in my approach to writer and in fact, life. Although I admire greatly the architects and wish that I was one, whenever I have tried to change my approach to my writing, as per writing classes often suggest, my writing ends up stilted and just not ‘me.’ I do believe though that there is a lot to learn from both types of writing; both architect and gardener and writer’s conferences and other writerly functions can be great places to get both; to glean from the ideas of others. However I’ve noticed that even my approach to these meetings tends more towards gardening meaning I don’t tend to show up based on the structure of the conference, which speakers are going to be there, how many workshops or which ones. Instead I arrive with more of a desire to see what unexpected directions this conference or workshop might take me; some nugget of truth that I’ve overlooked that I can take home and water and nourish into better writing. And usually I do receive something from each one; perhaps a word of wisdom from a speaker that feels just right for me, or other times I’ve had blue pencil sessions with an author who spoke directly into my writing with suggestions of improvement or even just encouragement. Other times, it’s simply been something someone said over coffee or something someone read from their own writing that resonated with my own style and gave me new insight into myself.
Gardening though it can sound whimsical and fun is in actually a lot of hard work; albeit with much love. Planting the seeds is actually the easy part for a creative mind but then comes the tending and weeding which in real life gardening and in my writing is a weak spot for me. Often my weeds overtake me and they just seem too big to deal with. I abandon my garden in neglect. Conferences, writer’s groups and writers’ classes are a way for me to try to stay on track and I always find I do better as a writer if I am networking in at least one of these ways on a regular basis.
*You can find some of my gardenly (not a word but I kind of like it) and sometimes weedy type writing on my blog at email@example.com or follow my face book page at Gloria Lynn Guest.