Writing Communities

At this month’s CANSCAIP meeting, a former participant at the Seaside Writing Workshop/Retreat that my partner and I offer in Nova Scotia each summer announced that we are now accepting applications for this years workshop/retreat. Since it involves living and working with five other participants (plus Peter and me), a lovely sense of community tends to develop in the five days and six nights that writers spend with us. (Of course, within the context of this community, there’s ample time for quiet writing, walks on the beach, and quiet reflection along the shore and in various outbuildings too.)

Seaside Writing Workshop/Retreat
It’s probably because writing is such a solitary activity that many writers seek out such opportunities to meet with fellow writers – to share stories of the joys and challenges of writing and to get the objective feedback that’s often necessary to take a writing project another step toward completion. This can be true whether it’s a first draft or a draft just prior to submission to a publisher that a writer is working on, or something in between.

The solitary nature of a writer’s work also lies behind why many writers like to belong to writers’ organizations. For those writing for young people (or just thinking about it, or who simply appreciate the results), there’s no better organization to belong to (in my opinion) than CANSCAIP – the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers. I’ve been a member since 1983!

One great thing about CANSCAIP is that memberships are available for professionals in the field, for those aspiring to be, and for those who simply want to support those involved in the industry and get the inside scoop on what’s going on there. Another is that as the organization has grown, groups of members have begun meeting in various provinces across the country.

Even if you don’t live somewhere within reach of meetings or conferences, you can still get access to meeting minutes, which include not only important announcements about residency programs, markets, new books — and the Seaside Writing Workshop/Retreat! — but excellent notes on programs featuring great speakers, too – authors, illustrators, performers, editors, publishers, etc.

Members also receive the quarterly Newsletter. Each issue includes an in-depth profile of a prominent Canadian author or illustrator, news about recent book releases, awards, writing programs and conferences, and publishing opportunities.The current Winter issue even included an excerpt from Marthe Jocelyn‘s Packaging Your Imagination keynote address, “Prophecies, Lies and Pearls of Wisdom”, as well as practical highlights from other PYI speakers’ presentations.

If you’re feeling the need to become part of a writing community, one way or another, check out CANSCAIP and the Seaside Writing Workshop/Retreat, and if you have questions about either, let me know.

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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson

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