Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Word on the Street Festival

This wannabe writer wandered the tents of Toronto’s Word on the Street festival last Sunday. The experience is more colourful from a writer's perspective, rather than some girl with funky glasses who really loves reading. I scoured the Wordshop Marquee tent like a starving piranha trying to nibble clues from tasty looking authors and editors. The entire buffet of advice was free. Don't let the free fool you. Quality content, from a lineup of impressive speakers, had my heart pumping and head spinning right until the final hour of the day. 

Riding a double shot cappuccino high, I flung a sample from my Candyflip manuscript into the critique lottery drop box for the final wordshop. On the brink of puking, I internally prayed for Antanas Sileika (Director of the Humber School for Writers, and one of the days hosts) to pick my page, and not pick my page.

The first lucky winner’s prose was critiqued, and my throat swelled while my stomach filled with acid. I've taken creative writing classes with peer feedback session, and they made me a little nervous. Listening to the brutally honest comments from the amazing publisher Jack David, and award-winning author Kim Moritsugu, had me hyperventilating.  Eyeing the squishy grass at my feet, I wondered if anyone would notice me slipping from the chair to kneel before the writing gods; begging that my page stay buried at the bottom of the box. Three critiques later, I was feeling confident mine would not be picked, when Mr. Sileika announced the last page and held it up. The page had a paper clip on it. It was the only page in that box with a paper clip on it. I know this because the idiot who put it there wasn’t planning on submitting anything for critique; she just happened to have a copy of her double-spaced first five pages incase her dream agent/publisher was there.

Putting those paper clipped pages into that box was the best thing I ever did. The comments were frightening, and accurate.  I’ve never been satisfied with the opening to Candyflip, and couldn’t figure out why. Kim Moritsugu’s candid comments uncovered the problem with my novel’s opening. Jack David’s encouragement injected me with confidence to re-work the manuscript that night.

Thanks to every person involved with The Word on the Street Festival. Special thanks to Jack David and Kim Moritsugu for helping this wannabe writer get a little better.

Maybe I’ll be able to call myself an author at the next festival.