I spent Friday night doing one of my most favourite things, hanging out in a Coffee Shop, although this wasn't an ordinary visit to CommuniTea and Coffee.
I had the pleasure of enjoying a warm drink on a cold early winter's night, listening to local writers share their works of art. I really felt at home with the atmosphere that was created. Each writer shared his or her writing followed by a question and answer period that provoked active conversation and deep thought of why we have chosen to write what we write.
Alex Kosoris hosted the evening and opened by talking about his novel Lucifer, which describes God and Lucifer working in an office building in heaven. The descriptions allowed you to almost see God and Lucifer in a discussion about why Lucifer should rebel.
Heather Dickson shared a few pages of her novel To Walk in the Way of Lions, Book 2. The accents written for the characters allow you to truly see them as real people. I can’t wait to read more about these characters – I am adding it to my Christmas list!
Jean E. Pendziwol read an excerpt from Anything Yet, which she plans to put on her blog in the near future. With the imagery and emotion depicted, it seemed like a haunting yet peaceful experience. I desperately want to read more!!
Brandon Walker’s newspaper columns from when he lived in Timmins described two of his past times – kayaking and arm wrestling. The discussion resulted in funny stories depicting Brandon’s days as a reporter…. He kept everyone laughing!
Friday was an evening of sharing and encouragement for more stories to be told.
Keep writing NOWW!
I pride myself on my hobbit-like existence which most often consists of staying in my nice warm home with a cup of tea, a good book and very few unexpected, unplanned, and unprepared for adventures. There’s a lovely comfort in predictability. Then this past Friday evening my good friend asked me to join her at a coffee house.
“They have tea there, right?” I had asked her. She assured me that yes, a coffee house called CommuniTea & Coffee (emphasis on the “Tea”) would certainly have the tea I was looking for and that for a couple hours I could safely sit in a corner and listen to some local authors share tales of their own journeys. Given my trend into the hobbit lifestyle, as far as scary adventures go, this one seemed reasonable.
Stepping into the cool air of November, I met up with my friend and we made our way to
CommuniTea on East Frederica Street. The little café was filled with warm smiling faces as each individual or pair made their way to a small group throughout the room. This was my first Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop event and I was surprised by the amount of people in attendance. At the head of the room sat a panel of four speakers. Alex Kosoris (writer as well as moderator for this evening’s event) sat next to Brandon Walker, Heather Dickenson and Jean E. Pendziwol. These three authors sat cozied up on what appeared to be the world’s most comfy couch (and I do consider myself an expert at such things. It’s part of the hobbit rule book: Find comfort. Grab book and tea).
To my surprise, I ventured beyond tea and purchased a hot cocoa to sip on throughout the
event. If you’re going to go on an adventure outside of your house, be brave and get hot cocoa. I should add that to the rule book for those wannabe-hobbits who dare go on adventures. In addition to this brazen beverage choice, I also struck up a conversation with a member of NOWW who was also standing in line waiting for her yummy treat of choice. During our chit chat, Jane Crossman, President of NOWW, introduced herself. I explained how I found myself at this event and had mentioned that I had been perusing the NOWW website and Facebook page for some time as I sat at home dreaming of being a writer and the inner desire I have to find a community of writers and readers and lovers of stories. Be
assured, I was fully aware that my adventure at this point had gone way beyond my initial intentions to sit quietly in a corner of the room unnoticed. Yet, here I was happily chatting away with friendly new people who all love what I love - writing.
Each of the speakers was engaging. I found that they each were strikingly different in tone, topic and approach to writing and I loved every second of it. More than once I found myself raising my hand to ask a question and as the minutes turned into two hours I found myself growing increasingly inspired. I even pulled out my notebook and jotted a few thoughts and ideas down.
As the evening came to an end, I felt a sense of disappointment. I wasn’t quite ready for the adventure to be over and as I explained this to my friend she told me about a reading taking place in two short weeks at the Mary J.L. Black Library.
I was hooked.
As the room began to empty, I saw other non-members who had been in attendance filling out forms to join this world of writers and knew that they too had felt the same inspiration and excitement that I had. Though it was just a taste of this world of NOWW, it was also a droplet of hope that perhaps I was finding the community I had been looking for. And as all hobbit stories are reminded “It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to” (Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring), and it seemed I was swept up straight into being the Northwestern Ontario Writer’s Workshops newest member.
See you at the reading on December 1st. I’ll be the one in the corner with her cup of tea, or if I’m brazen, hot cocoa.
By Sarah Mendek
“The Art of Writing for Children” workshop presented by Jean E. Pendziwol was one of my favourites so far. I found it very creative and inspiring and even heartwarming. It has given me a better appreciation for what we as writers do; tell stories, create characters and engage the reader into worlds only the imagination can understand.
The presentation of the workshop, the way we were all included in the discussion, has helped motivate me to return to writing knowing that any idea or format is possible as long as you have a structure that will build and strengthen the growth of your story.
I look forward to more workshops and the time I will have to read my own work at future NOWW events!
By Brandon Walker
I wiped my sweaty palms on the front of my jeans, desperately trying to remain calm.
The room in the Mary JL Black Library was full and I was about to do the unthinkable: read two stories I wrote as a reporter.
I had mixed feelings while waiting for my turn to read – I wanted to tiptoe out of the room, never to be seen again; I wanted my reading to happen immediately; and I wanted it to already be over and done with.
Part of the reason I became a newspaper reporter was for the anonymity. I could attend events, observe, take notes, and then craft a story without people realizing I was there. Truthfully, sometimes I felt like Batman.
Don’t laugh. It’s true.
I didn’t become a reporter for the limelight. But then I became a columnist, which is a whole other animal.
My only goal when writing columns was to entertain and perhaps inspire. A part of me, hidden deep inside, always wondered if people liked what I was writing.
On Tuesday, Nov. 3, I stood at the podium with stories in hand, bracing myself for what was to come. At first, I was scared witless. My mouth dried up (note to self: bring water next time) as I explained that I wrote the first column in Timmins and the second in Thunder Bay.
It was thrilling to read these stories about the tumbles I took while learning how to cross country ski.
After the reading, a few people shook my hand and said they were reminded of when they first tried cross-country skiing and that the stories made them laugh.
People felt like they knew me, which made me feel like a celebrity (Batman, perhaps?). This experience gave me something I’ve never had before – direct access to readers (or, more precisely, listeners), and immediate feedback on my writing.
While writing, every author should consider his or her audience, which is something I have tried to do, but reading in front of an audience is the best way to actually test your material.
It made me want to focus even more on my own writing and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Welcome to the new NOWW. It's not really new, just went out and got itself a little bit of a makeover. NOWW has been inspiring, supporting and encouraging writers in northwestern Ontario for 18 years now and decided it was time for a little bit of a change and more of an online presence.
Over the course of the last few months we have been making some changes in order to better reach writers across the region and provide a new platform to showcase their work. This year, Dorothea Belanger joined the executive as Regional Representative. She is based in Kenora and will be working with organizations, writing groups and libraries from Kenora to Marathon to provide readings, workshops and support to our members. This is just one of the ways we are looking to reach out to our members and provide greater opportunities for writers in the north. If you are in the region and looking to connect with Dorothea, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to put you in touch.
We have also created a new website... this one here! Take a look around, check out the pages and the information and if you have any suggestions, please just send us an email: email@example.com. As you may notice, the website isn't just about NOWW, it is about writing in the north. NOWW is where you can come to find out about community events, regional, national and international writing contests, resources for writers, writing groups - pretty much anything! We can help you connect to writers in your area and in the country to help encourage your work. Obviously, it's also the place you can come to find out everything that's happening with NOWW - readings, workshops, events, contests... you name it!
Within the website, is this blog. Probably my favourite new endeavor as it is going to be populated by you, our members! This will be another space to showcase your work, share your excitement about an event, and work on your craft. I will be putting weekly calls out for blog posts - excerpts you would like to post from your work, book/film/event reviews, NOWW event reviews, general musings on writing... pretty much anything! This is an opportunity for members to let us know what is going on with them, to showcase their writing and gives an opportunity for our regional members to connect with us in more personal ways. Most of the time the content will be directed by you, the members and sometimes I'll put a call out for themed posts or something specific (book review, event review, etc). This is just another way we want to connect with you and showcase our talented members.
That's about all for now, but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org... and don't forget, if you haven't joined NOWW, there's no time like the present!