Park Place Lodge

While the pandemic and ensuing financial issues forced the Fernie Writers Conference to postpone for a year, the steadfast support of two local businesses enabled the Youth Sessions to continue uninterrupted. Fernie Lodging Company and the Parastone Team of Companies stood by their initial commitment to the youth of our community and the Conference brought together six talented young writers to work with local author and teacher Danielle Gibson for three days.

Participating in a writing workshop is daunting exercise for writers at any age. You read your work to the group. Then, one by one, around the circle, your peers comment on your piece. What is good. What may have missed the mark. (Oops.) And what in the world are you trying to do here? (Double Oops.) To place your best work in front of a cabal of knife wielding writers causes the best to hesitate.

After the first round, you take your work home that night and revise it with the comments in mind. And the following day, you bring it back for round two of the knifing.

The final result is a better piece of writing. A collection of words honed to a knife edge sharpness. In the meantime, beyond the revisions to your piece, by critiquing the others in the group, you learn to critique both other’s work and, more importantly, your own.

In the Youth Sessions, the critique is focused and direct.

“What kind of elf?” (Unknown to me, there are eleven types of elves. We learn more every day.)

“What kind of sword is it and how could you have a dragon tooth on the handle? A tooth would be too big and mess with the balance.” And a heated discussion ensues on the type of sword–thrusting, cutlass, sabre and so on. But most importantly, the dragon tooth. How big do the dragons grow? And how big are the babies? Could it be a baby dragon’s tooth? And how is it fastened to the hilt?

There are stories of young love. Stories of travels. Stories of new worlds. And of worlds that once were. Stories of our world today in Covid trevails. And stories of beings with two arms and four legs that we have not found yet. Not yet, but I’m sure they are just over the horizon from the description.

Over the three days, Danielle kept the teen-aged angst channeled, focused (sort of) and traveling toward new possibilities. Many thanks to our supporters for enabling this workshop to continue.

The Fernie Writers Conference will be held August 15-21, 2021 with the original line-up of award winning workshop leaders. The next Fernie Writers Conference event is a Mini-Conference October 30/31/Nov. 1 and the introduction of the first Fernie Writer-in-Residence, Rod McIntyre of Christina Lake. The Writer-in-Residence placement is possible through the generous support of the Fernie Lodging Company and the Federation of BC Writers.

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See more from Keith Liggett.

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