By barb janes
Winnipeg’s Exchange arts community may have First Fridays, but the MWG has First Thursdays – a time writers can virtually come together to rant and ramble about all things writing.
The January 4 Zoom was a meetup of 12 (including the host), some new to the MWG, some long-time members (and one self-confessed lurker), some new writers and some with several publications under their belts, and an impressive range of genres – horror, fantasy, memoir, historical fiction, micro (the 50 word story!), novels, creative non-fiction, blogs, academic writing, even advertising. But no poets in attendance.
Participants each shared what they are currently working on, and then the floor was thrown open.
One writer asked for the group’s experience of Writing Residencies, and one member shared her experience (some years ago) of a primo residency at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, noting that access to the college’s writer-friendly library was an unexpected bonus. While she accomplished a strong output of writing, she regrets (20/20 hindsight) that she scrimped on socializing with the other writers, a diverse group both in age and race. The diverse representation at the residency helped this writer take questions of diversity seriously in her own work. Another writer on the Zoom suggested the starting point of seeking out a residency is to be clear about what you want: time alone to write? Community with other writers? A mentor/editor? Not to have to cook meals while you work? Do you need a lot of structure or none? This resourceful person quickly chased up the following links for those interested in pursuing a residency:
- The Write Life – Writing Residencies
- Writer’s Trust of Canada – Residency Programs
- Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity – Summer Writers Residency 2023
- Res Artis – Worldwide Network of Arts Residencies – International Writers’ and Artists’ Residency-Val-David, Quebec, Canada
A sensitive and substantive conversation ensued when a writer of historical Canadian fiction reported uneasy feelings as she creates in a field of landmines, noting our language and cultural attitudes shift with increasing speed. She noted her characters are debating amongst themselves, uncovering different viewpoints and their impacts. Several suggested having a cultural consultant read the work, and one person noted you may want more than one opinion, given the wide range of opinions within cultural groups.
Our rapidly shifting culture was the next conversational ramble, one that evoked a few rants: how we are all increasingly in our own bubble, ignoring things right under our noses, how algorithms create anger and self-righteousness instead of friendship and curiosity. Given these silos, how do we market our work (assuming people still read and there even is a market)? And how do we keep inspired to write? Writing is different than marketing, noted the person with an advertising background. Don’t write for them, write for you, suggested another.
And then, our time was up. The session lived up to its name: lots of rambling, and a few rants. I wondered about those who did neither (no rambling, much less ranting) and if a more structured approach to the conversation might encourage each person to participate. But if you’re looking for a meet up with fellow writers without sharing samples of your work for critique, you might keep First Thursdays in mind.