Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Avoid the Pitfalls of the Writing Life

Tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 25) I'll be at the FTLOL ("For the Love of Learning") conference called ACT, talking to young people who are possibly interested in becoming writers. This event has been marked on my calendar for the end of summer for a long time now, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's a free conference (my part runs from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.) and the artists and organizations involved don't get paid for doing it. They just give of their time because they think it's a worthwhile endeavour.

I remember all too well what it was like to be on the outside of a career in writing and wanting in so desperately, having only a vague idea of how to get there. To have a chance now to impart some hard-learned lessons after nearly a lifetime of studying the publishing industry both from the outside and the inside is an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I'm hoping it will be a fun hour full of interesting and entertaining discussion and packed with suggestions about how to go about getting involved in the writin' racket.

Anyone between the ages of 15 and 35 is invited to join us. It's a very open sort of deal. I'm even hoping a few of my former students will show up--perhaps even a student or two who happens to be in my upcoming English 1080 classes in September. Over the last few years, I've talked to and mentored numerous students who are interested in writing, as well as the arts in general, and this single hour devoted entirely to the subject of getting started in writing would be a useful addition to anything else I might have said in the past.

All in all, it's a pretty cool event--the kind I wish had been available to me when I was on the outside looking in. Also, remember, it's not just about writing--there are other events going on too from the various arts and arts organizations in the city. There's lots to learn...just for the love it, and that's the really cool part.

MORE DETAILS BELOW from the organizers:

Wednesday, August 24 at 11:00am - August 26 at 6:00pm

Location Gower Street United Church

Aspiring artists have a unique opportunity to receive guidance from professionals, free of charge. Non-profit FTLOL is presenting its second A.C.T., (Arts Career Training) conference, which will bring established members of the local creative community to one location, to speak about the road to a career in the arts and how to avoid the potholes.

Youth Coordinator June Rogers says, “ACT’s mandate is summed up by its slogan, ‘ ambition finds direction’. It’s about keeping artistic culture alive in St. John's by ensuring that new artists know how to enter the professional arena. ACT is all about the art community coming together to support emerging artists.”

The conference will run August 24-26 inclusive, from 11 am to 6 pm, in the gym and lecture hall of Gower Street United Church, 99 Queen’s Road. An exhibition of new work by FTLOL's artist-in-residence and youth participants will take place concurrently.

Admission is free, and no registration is necessary. For more information, please visit, or contact 722-8848 or

Saturday, August 20, 2011

For those with an interest in Newfoundland heritage and culture, this is a must see TONIGHT--a one-hour documentary presenting unique colour footage of pre-Confederate outport Newfoundland will air Saturday, August 20th, on CBC TV, at 8:30 pm Newfoundland Time.

The writer, Marjorie Doyle, is a friend of mine and the daughter of the iconic Gerald S. Doyle who is the subject of this documentary. She's extremely proud of this film (produced with her brother, filmmaker John W. Doyle) and simply wants to share it with as many people as possible. It's pretty rare footage.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Drive-by blogging

Hi there!

Despite appearances, I haven't abandoned you or this blog. It's been a far more hectic summer than I ever imagined it would be. I've just come back from beautiful Eastport at the Winterset Writers' Festival where I had the kind of weekend that writers dream of. I plan to write more on that later this week, but for now I just wanted to apprise you of two bits of news:

First, my brand new website has been up and running for a few weeks now: That's where I post all the information about where I'm doing readings and booksignings or media events, as well as other kinds of public appearances. You'll find all that on the "News" page. I eventually plan to add some new pages, particularly an "Academic" page to which my students can go for information about coursework and academic writing. Also, I hope, before the end of summer, to add some excerpts from my published writing as well as excerpts from reviews.

Second, this very busy week continues with a reading at The Fat Cat Blues Bar tomorrow (Wednesday, August 17th) in downtown St. John's. I'll be reading along with several other authors. Here's the info:

Breakwater Books and Creative Book Publishing are proud to present Mixed Type – putting a twist on mainstream literary events in downtown St. John’s. Local authors and musicians will team up with host and award-winning author Chad Pelley to present a night of literature and music. Mixed Type will feature authors Linden MacIntyre, Patrick Warner, Gerard Collins, Sam Martin, Michelle Butler Hallett, and Kate Evans along with performances by Andrew James O’Brien and Pilot to Bombardier. All are welcome, and admission is free. Join us August 17th at the Fat Cat on George! The show starts at 7:00pm!
All are welcome to this, no matter who you are. Eastport is still buzzing over the fact that Giller Prize winner Linden MacIntyre was there last year (several people said it to me in a way that made it obvious the information was a source of pride). Also, three of the other five authors were at Winterset as invited panelists this year-- pretty prestigious gig, if one is lucky enough to be asked. As well, I heard and met musician Andrew James O'Brien at Winterset this weekend and he is one hell of a songwriter and singer. I can't imagine anyone not loving his music.
Back soon.


P.S. Now would be a good time to remind you to join me on Facebook, where all these events are posted as they occur:!/event.php?eid=200229713364069