The CCWWP: What on Earth is a Writer’s Conference like?

 Before I left on my trip to the CCWWP in Toronto, people asked me, “What exactly do you do at a writer’s conference?” Though I made things up, I didn’t actually know.

I figured we’d talk about the state of the publishing industry or the fate of the Creative Writing Program in Canada. There would definitely be lots of talk about the frontiers of poetry. Believe me, no one really wants to hear about the theoretical frontiers of poetry (even poetry lovers, like me), but people love to tell you about them.

Here’s how it went:

DAY 1 – Thursday, May 10th

The conference was held at Humber College, which is only technically in Toronto. I think people who live in TO might refer to the locale as Mississauga. I was staying with family on the west side so I had to take a streetcar. The commute is about an hour if the traffic is good. It wasn’t.

I left at 3:30 and go there at 5pm. Then I found out that absolutely nothing would be happening until 7pm. So, like the high school drop out that I am, I went to a friend’s house for a dinner party instead. Consequently, the first day of a writer’s conference is till a mystery to me.

Dinner was delicious.

DAY 2 – Friday, May 11

Got up at 7am and made it to the conference on time. It was scary; scary like the first day of high school. There were all of these people I didn’t know, so I automatically assumed that they were wildly successful and friends with each other.  I immediately regretted my wardrobe choice – you know the drill. This would be the first time in over a decade that I would be in lectures for two whole days. I already felt like calling my high-school best friend and skipping.

Breakfast – I was allergic to everything they served for breakfast. But, I had much coffee and mingled.

Panel 1 – Was on the advantages and disadvantages of a multi-genre Creative Writing program. I attend a multi-genre program. I went to this one because I knew the people giving the talk. Conclusions: there are advantages and disadvantages to a multi genre program.

Panel 2 – Was on culture meshing literary genres or “Writers Without Borders”. Again, I attended this one because I knew one of the panelists. Conclusions: Some people are super interested in cultures other than their own and how those cultures contrast their own experience. Traditional forms of poetry benefit from translation into a modern language and context in order to preserve the form. Some people don’t like the idea of labeling anything, ever – usually poets.

Lunch – I was allergic to everything they served for lunch. I met a cool couple from Prince George.

Panel 3 – was about how to write sex scenes well. I went to this one because it had sex in the title. Conclusion: Sex scenes are often funny. No duh. Nothing was learned about how to write a good sex scene.

Panel 4 – I zoned out.

Panel 5 – Went for a walk.

I skipped the evening get-together and went out on the town with my radical Toronto friends.

Got lost on my way home because cab drivers in Toronto have no idea where anything is. Was in bed by 4 am.

DAY 3 – Saturday, May 12

I was two hours late. I missed breakfast and the first panel, which worked out because the discussions had pedagogy in the title. My friend and I pre-decided to avoid discussions with pedagogy in the title.

Panel 2 – was given by that cool couple from Prince George. It was on the intermingling of creative writing and theory to create a self-conscious piece of creative writing. Sounds terrible. Conclusions: Some people are so honest and creative that they can make anything good. These are two of those people.

Lunch – I ate the egg out of a Quiche. I met a woman with my dream life. She teaches writing retreats to businessmen and emerging writers. She gets to see and help people interpret early stages of creative development. So awesome.

Panel 3 –– Best panel of the entire conference! It was on how technology comes into play in teaching creative writing and writing for new medias. I want to be both of the people who gave this panel. Conclusions: The Internet is going to change everything, people should learn to write for it, and get excited about it!

I was so inspired after this panel, I skipped the rest and went back into town and ate oysters with my high-school best friend. She and I have a long history of skipping.

Conference Stats:

Things learned: 10
Hours spent in transit: 7
Awesome people met: 8
Meals enjoyed: 0
Inspirations: 12
Level of Enthusiasm Gained: 75
Percentage of People who secretly loved being called, Dude: 100%
How much like high school it was: Totally.


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