Being at the Winnipeg International Writers Festival last week was a life changing experience.
It felt like home; walking amongst peers, mentors and idols. It was inspirational on so many levels. It was an internal domino effect of events starting with being asked to blog while knowing nothing about THIN AIR. The magnitude of the audience was daunting but I was ready for the adventure. The events themselves inspired me so organically. I wrote posts about the message each author was trying to get across.
Through that task, doors opened in my mind. Doors to new career possibilities and hobbies and personal goals, an excitement that feels like it a beginning. A new beginning to an old passion, to write and document and share my perspective and experiences through creative mediums.
I ask myself in times of self doubt, what’s so special about my experiences and thoughts? Why would anyone want to read about them? What do I have to say that hasn’t been said before? Isn’t being a writer kind of self-important?
I turned the tables and tried to think of a time when I’ve read something and thought, wow, that person’s self-important, and I couldn’t really. When I’m reading a carefully crafted piece, fact or fiction I’m always only thinking of how thankful I am that this person wrote and shared it with the me, directly or as public domain.
I’ve learned though this festival and the exposure to different methods of writing that it’s not so much what you have to say but how you say it. What could be an old idea to you, could be brand new to someone else, and often is. For no one thinks exactly as you do or describes things in identical ways. Your boring old idea could be shared in a new way ,with new language and new insight to someone who shares your perception. Better yet, it could be completely fresh idea to someone that serendipitously came across their path.
The most profound part of the THIN AIR experience for me was observing the crowd. There were people from all ages and walks of life. They were participating in the Q & A with the authors, browsing the books on the McNally table and chatting with their neighbours.
As a stay at home mom, somewhat disconnected to the public, I was so refreshed to see that there is still a passion in the world for printed word. Most of my reading, admittedly, is from my blackberry, laptop or ipod touch. It’s mostly blogs or shared links to articles to random things or book reviews on parenting strategies. Naturally, when my heart starts to write it’s flows into self-published blogs because a) it’s fast and easy and b) thoughts of publishing a printed and bound book seem like a pipe dream.
I was inspired by interviews with authors like Jennifer Still, who shared stories of their beginnings. While Kim Anderson told her audience that her book was a scholarly piece that was 10 years in the making and that at times she didn’t know why she was doing this and if it even mattered. It was all so motivating; it felt so familiar.
Upon attending these events and seeing the enthusiastic audience it showed me why it does matter. As humans we all seek knowledge. Knowledge not only in nature and space discovery but also about personal discovery, the individual experience that is either comforting in familiarity or intriguing in it’s difference from your life.
Not everyone has this ability to convey their thoughts in comprehensive way, words flow more easily for some than others, and if you have this gift it’s your duty to use it.
It can be overwhelming to walk into a book store or library and see the masses of books that there just isn’t enough time to read in a lifetime. How could anything I write make any difference in this ocean of pages and words? I am then reminded of one of my favourite quotes by Mother Theresa “We cannot do great things in our lives, only small things with great love.”
You don’t have to be a best seller, or even get published at all. Small acts, for the love writing, add up and snowball and before you know it you’ve impressed your mother or are being interviewed by fans while sharing your work on stage. All your worries, doubts and re-writes make sense, the pieces come full circle. You’ve done your part to preserve your moment in time in written word and someone’s life somewhere in space and time will be changed by your words.
As I and the hundreds of people who participated in THIN AIR, in whatever level of significance, have changed forever.
-Leah Edmonds, Guest Blogger .