The 30th Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts was a whirlwind weekend of words. Words of wisdom, words of advice, words of warning, wayward words.
Wayson Choy, a gentle, generous man, opened the festival and warned us “You can leave behind your fancy house, your expensive car, and your valuable jewelry but if you don’t leave your story, you leave nothing”.
Noah Richler has waged a personal war on the way we talk about war—in his own words. He described the new Canadian world view as an epic view—as in an epic story where-in good is pitted against evil and no attention is paid to what stands in between.
Murder mysteries mixed with the mysterious ways that corporations and advertisers who aim their messages at children conduct their murderous acts in full view, with little disclosure, and cast a large net of wool over the eyes of we who trust.
And memoir. The all-important memoir each of us carry. Told through deep and painful poetry, or revealed stitch by stitch through the fabric of J.J. Lee’s father’s suit. Long, life-long memoires facing the bad, the sad, and the hurtful that somehow unearth a few happy moments. Moments that live in every childhood, buried between the sorrows.
A light-hearted Lorna Crozier who has endured her husband’s life of addiction chose to amuse herself, and us, with her Book of Marvels—ordinary things like a coffee pot, a refrigerator, Jello.
The final presenter, Jane Urquhart, when asked about her writing process explained, “I carry around disparate ideas, like Monarch butterflies, migration and military, then I see if I can fit them together somehow”.
“So you don’t use a plan, an outline?”
“No”, she replied. “Have you ever watched a group of seven year old boys at play? They go outside and one of them says “Let’s…”. They all just do it until someone else says “what if?” . They don’t plan the tension or the plot or the outcome. They just go and play with their ideas. Remember, she advised, you can write what ever you want and you never have to show it to anyone else”.
Each writer finds his or her own way. Many still use hand writing for first drafts, some let their characters lead them. Others use their adversities to fuel their humour.
They write their ideas, convictions, prose, poetry and songs. The common thread is story.
Until next year……