As my friend Jacqui and I wound our way down the steep road of Mount Hotham in Victoria after an already four hour drive, we were excited for the upcoming weekend in Bright. A whole weekend at the first Bright Creative Writing Workshop that was designed to help develop our skills in the field of creative writing. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were anticipating a fun filled, jam-packed creative weekend—and we were not disappointed.
It was a weekend spent with Merelyn & David from nationally and internationally awarded songwriters’ country music duo, Carter & Carter, my friend and guest blogger, children's book illustrator Ester de Boer, as well as poet and published author Sylvia Fraser.
The weather by Friday night may have been grey and dreary, however it did not dampen the enthusiasm of David and Merelyn, or the participants, of which there were around 20+. By the time we were having supper later that night, we were starting to get to know each other and the enthusiasm was rising in the room. We were all creatives, slightly left of center, and everyone was accepting of everyone else. We also all at different stages of our creative journey. Some were just dipping their toes into the creative arts. Others were already published authors. Everyone else was in between these two extremes.
You would think that if you got a bunch of introverts in a room there would be silence. Well that was far from the truth. By the time we were heading off into the deepening night to our respective accommodations, the excitement was high. The incredible vibe of willingness to share and learn from each other spread throughout the entire weekend.
On Saturday morning, there was a workshop by David and Merelyn to show us how to overcome writers’ block. They said that their proven technique would help story writers, poets, songwriters and bloggers, (there were two of us). Merelyn announced that by the end of the two hours we, as a group, would have written a song. The look of disbelief on all our faces was priceless. Yet we dived right on in and were presently surprised with a lovely and moving song by the end of two hours.
We couldn’t have done it without the talented duo of David and Merelyn however. David grabbed up his guitar and worked out a melody while we continued brainstorming. The brainstorming techniques would most definitely work for all forms of writing, as I often use a similar technique for blog posts and stories. Hmmm. Maybe another blog post on this technique will be coming.
Saturday afternoon Ester explained the complexities of children’s book illustration, showed us some of the processes, shared the illustrations of her latest book that she had been working and recently completed for David and Merelyn, To the Moon and Back: Grandma's Rocket Adventure. Then we tried our hand at a story board for a picture book manuscript.
After afternoon tea, we broke into groups. Sylvia took a poetry workshop, others had some personal writing time. Jacqui and I snuck off to buy a couple of things for Ester as it was her birthday the following day.
Late afternoon found us sharing various stories, songs and poetry, either written that day or what we had brought along to share. I shared Raymund and the Fear Monster. Two of the younger participants blew us away with their talent. Chloe Jade with her gorgeous acoustic guitar and lovely voice sang an original song. You can view the song here: Youtube
The writing of fellow blogger and fantasy writer Hannah entertained us with her story of a pigeon that came tapping Morse code at her characters’ window at 4:30 am every night for a week. It kept us all guessing until the very end not knowing in which direction the story would take us next. If you love fantasy, feel free to check out her blog, Tales of Ryllia where Hannah is the Shadow Master. For a younger persons’ perspective of the weekend, Hannah has also blogged about her writers' workshop experience.
On Sunday, we explored the business side—how to go about self-publishing or seeking a publishing deal. We learnt about options for recording, illustrating, graphic design, marketing and more, as well as getting out of the right ‘creative’ side of the brain and get into the left-brain way of thinking. We should think of ourselves as a business/brand. This concept was not new to me, though it was to many others.
I was surprised about the amount of information that I have already picked up in the past couple of years from various authors, conferences, workshops and blogs regarding traditional publishing, as well as self-publishing, prior to the weekend. By the end of the workshop I was even more assured that I will be self-publishing Raymund and the Fear Monster. I have learned all that I can to get started. I am sure that I will learn a lot more once I do take the plunge. I am now more inspired than ever to follow my dream and get Raymund published. Now to put my left brain into gear and do the business side of getting it published.
On Sunday afternoon, a showcase concert starring multi award winning artists Carter & Carter and the workshop participants was held. This was concert was open to the public to give us the opportunity to perform in front of a crowd. There were stories, poetry and songs shared to a large crowd of around 40+ people of all ages. I was able to share a picture book manuscript of mine, Ruby to the Rescue. The audience laughed and giggled in all the right places, and there was applause at the end, so I think that they liked it.
So, it was with a weary body that I left Bright on Monday morning for the long journey home, my mind and spirit buoyed up with the experiences and encouragement over the weekend. The best conversations had happened outside the workshops, and I have met and connected with an amazing array of wonderful people.
If you are thinking about attending a writers’ conference or a writers’ workshop, I highly suggest it. For me it was not only about what I learnt, but even more importantly, it was about the connections that I have made and the people I met that I would would never had the opportunity to.
This ties what David and Merelyn were talking about Saturday morning. My Top 5 First Draft Tips: by Wendy Orr.
For further information about the weekend: Bright Creative Writing Workshop
For further information about the main speakers:
David and Merelyn Carter from Carter & Carter
Ester de Boer on her website at Ester de Boer Illustration
Sylvia Fraser on her website at Life Works 4 You
Some group members:
A Letter from a Comrade. A moving letter that Hannah read out at the concert. It brought many to tears.
If you want to find out more information about Chloe Jade, and listen to her songs, you can find her on Facebook and Youtube.
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