Writing workshop coming to Ponoka

Budding authors and those with a passion for writing will have an opportunity to gain more insight and knowledge into the writing world through two workshops hosted by the Ponoka Jubilee Library on May 20.

Budding authors and those with a passion for writing will have an opportunity to gain more insight and knowledge into the writing world through two workshops hosted by the Ponoka Jubilee Library on May 20.

Kim Beach writer in residence for the Parkland Regional Library system from Red Deer will be running the workshops to help writers sharpen their skills and develop their ideas.

The workshops are offered to anyone who is interested in writing and will offer the tools needed to open up new opportunities in the writing world.

Beach is realistic about the writing world and encourages people to participate if writing is something that they are passionate about and enjoy.

“If it’s not fun, I’d suggest not getting involved with it at all,” said Beach. “The rewards are few, and are largely self-generated. Most writers will not be rich and famous, and most will not make a living as a writer, ever. The payoff is in the joy generated by the writing act itself. If a person finds writing a joyful way to pass the time, then that person should continue. If it seems torturous or unpleasant, or if the writer is living in a state of suspension waiting to be published, thinking that publication is the be all-end all of the writing life, then perhaps another way of life is more beneficial and realistic.”

As a writer herself, Beach knows the realities of the writing life and the difficulties that writers can face. She stresses that, although getting her work published has been a positive experience, it’s the personal satisfaction she gets from writing that is the true reward.

“I have a mentor who says that if one is not having fun in the actual writing, and is always looking toward some imaginary (usually unrealistic) expectation of publication, then one is not doing it right, and should consider another path in life,” she said. “I heartily agree. For me, the reward is the writing. Publishing is the icing on the cake of writing. It’s the cake that provides the heart of the flavour. The icing is just decoration.”

For the first workshop Beach will be focusing on the practicalities of the writing life. Information and ideas on making characters interesting, choosing the right words, the realities of the publishing industry, tips on how to find the right market for one’s work and potentially get it published and other aspects of the business side of writing will be given.

Beach’s experience in other communities around the province has shown her that many people are very creative but are not sure how to take the next step. Beach believes that Ponoka participants will also be looking to get farther with their ideas.

“My expectation is that there will be a lot of people with good ideas for stories/book but with no solid idea of how to get their work out there,” she said. “I have strategies (and a whole lot of realism) for breaking into publishing. In some cases, participants may find that it’s too much time, waiting, rejection, and hard work for them, but in most cases, people are willing to learn the ropes and dive into the uncertain world of trying to get one’s work published.”

During the second workshop writers will be led through a series of guided exercises and encouraged to participate in a several sessions of “free writing” where writers can anticipate leaving with several new pages of writing that can be worked on later at the participant’s convenience.

“As for the writing workshop, I am constantly amazed by the astounding work produced in my free writing sessions,” said Beach. “My hope is that the participants will leave with at least (and in a lot of cases, far more) three pages of new writing they can edit and refine later.”

Although Beach knows that the workshops can be beneficial to someone looking to branch out with their writing she also believes that it is an opportunity for good camaraderie.

“One thing all writers need is community. We spend such a large part of our time hidden in little rooms in complete solitude; I think it’s vital that we get out of our offices and studios and meet other writers with whom to share ideas and stories of the writing life.”

The first workshop will run from 12 to 2 p.m. and the second will begin at 7 p.m.