I belong to a group that has put on some writers’ workshops for the last few years and I used this week’s newspaper column to get the word out–it is probably of little interest to my wider audience–but there may be a few of you who are local and interested–
“Imagine a perfect fall day, the grapes hanging heavy on the vine, the vineyards stretching out in all directions – and a group of writers sharing their stories, their work and a glass of wine. A unique opportunity to get together in a fantastic, inspiring setting to write, talk about writing and meet some kindred spirits.”- Nancy Belgue
This year the Wine, Writers and Words (WWW) Committee is presenting their 4th Annual Writer’s Workshop featuring Paul Vasey in the idyllic surroundings of Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards. The workshop will provide participants not only with expert instruction but inspiration and a chance to share that inspired work in an open mic session at day’s end.
Paul is a familiar figure to most of us—from his days at the Windsor Star where he was an award winning journalist to his 18 year stint hosting the morning program on CBC Radio in both Windsor and Victoria. The author of eleven published books, ranging from short stories and novels to non-fiction, he is an accomplished writer who teaches and motivates others to successfully mine their creativity.
On Saturday, October 25th Paul will be teaching workshop participants how to make the character(s) of their stories compelling, and their dialogue believable. The workshop will focus “on character development and the effective use of dialogue in advancing plot and creating conflict”. Lest you think this subject matter is not important, let me quote a fellow member of Wine Writers and Words, and a writer herself, Nancy Belgue:
“Character is the most critical element in a writer’s toolbox. We’ve all heard the terms “character driven” and this means that without complex, believable, flawed and layered character, no story will ever work. No plot will thrill without a compelling character to root for….People are everything. Understanding character development—and this is equally important for all — whether fiction or non-fiction, will make you a better writer. To create a character that we really care about is a kind of magic.”
A number of the members on the committee have been fortunate to take a course or workshop from Paul. Brian Sweet says that he is most impressed by Paul’s editing skills and the fact that he stresses the positive aspects of a writer’s work leaving them “encouraged and motivated to write more”. He says that he applies what he learned from Paul to both his own writing and that required in his work writing reports and legal opinions. Joan Cope admires Paul’s ability to “point out exactly what is needed to help sharpen a piece of writing” and Nancy says that Paul is “generous, warm and engaging………his style is collaborative and supportive.”
Local writer, Rosalind Knight, author of “That Summer at the Mettawas”, says of Paul: “I thought it might be easy to feel intimidated, but it wasn’t at all. Paul is very accessible. He seems interested in other people’s stories, too, and so it is very easy to approach him”. She has attended past WWW workshops and states that for her “the best part of the workshops is to meet with and hear from like-minded individuals who are interested in language and what magic it can do.” She said that Paul provided her with the motivation to write about her Aunt Betsy who was the narrator of her book.
I have had the chance to see Paul in action, and must admit that until I attended one of his workshops I was a bit concerned about what was expected. I found him gracious, enjoyed his teaching style, and was not intimidated at all.
Now for the nitty gritty. The workshop is on Saturday, October 25th at Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards on Iler Road. Lunch, snacks, a wine tasting and open mic are all part and parcel of the package that makes up the workshop. The cost is $85. WWW is non-profit, our goal being to create a community for writers. We are supported by the Essex Region Literary Network and the Essex County Library. You can go online to winewriterswords.com to find out more and register. You can also pick up a form at any Essex County Library. Registration is limited to 25.
If you have never experienced a writer’s workshop this is a great place to start. It is for writers no matter what your stage or stripe.