I just returned from my second year at the Creative Ink Festival (#CIF2018). It is such an amazing event and I just can’t say enough about it. Actually, I could go on for days, but I will try not to.
First of all, hats off to Sandra Wickham and her very dedicated organizing committee (which I have volunteered to be a part of for next year). They do an astounding amount of work for this 3 day writing festival in Burnaby, BC, from arranging amazing Guests of Honour and Keynote speakers to enticing pros of all sorts (publishers, editors, published authors among others) to come and do panels, workshops, blue pencil critiques, readings and provide general entertainment, not to mention the enormous wealth of knowledge they share.
I first learned about this festival on Facebook in 2016 and was prepared to go, but I chickened out. Why? I had a huge inferiority complex (impostor syndrome) and low self esteem kept me from doing pretty much anything on my own. I told my parents about the festival several months later when I began sharing my (very unfinished) manuscript with them. That year for Christmas, they purchased a weekend pass for me for the 2017 festival.
It was there that I learned that amateurs and pros alike felt the same way I did. Many of the pros I met that weekend had impostor syndrome – there was even a panel about it. The fact that I hadn’t published – or even finished – anything didn’t matter, what did was the fact that I wanted to learn.
This year’s event was held May 18 – 21. It started off with a bang. I attended a Master class taught by CC (Chris) Humphreys – yes, the Chris Humphreys from stage, screen and page. The class was great, but better than that, he is so NICE! Genuinely so. Happy to chat with anyone at anytime throughout the weekend. It doesn’t matter that he’s been in the game for a long time or that he’s done a lot of different things, he enjoys sharing his knowledge and doing what he can to help others be successful.
A little while later, after spending an hour volunteering to “manage” the blue pencil room, I found myself in the company of three or four writers from Kelowna (our places of residence were on our name badges this year). One of the group happened to be a published author about to provide an hour to blue pencil critiques. Perhaps you’ve heard of Jonas Saul? Well he and the other Kelowna writers, seeing Kelowna on my name badge as well, demanded (satirically) to know why I was not a member of their writing group! I’ve only been in Kelowna for 2 months and have barely left the house unless it’s to get more materials for renovation work or buy food. Anyway, suffice to say, the festival was not even an hour old and I had been recruited into my very first writing group. More talk with Jonas over the next 2 1/2 days would solidify my resolve and I will meet with the Kelowna Writer’s Group for the first time in June.
During the dinner hour on the Friday evening were the opening remarks by the Guests of Honour – one being Chris Humphreys, the other being the equally esteemed, Kevin Hearne. Both of these men were extremely down to earth, and great to talk to. Their writing and other professional experiences are vastly different, but both had a wealth of information (and experience) sure to be of help to pretty much any writer.
The Keynote speaker at the banquet this year was indie author Adam Dreece. I met Adam for the first time last year when I went to him for a blue pencil critique. His critique and reaction to my words on that piece of paper was so positive and completely amazing. I have it on good authority that that blue pencil session meant almost as much to Adam as it did to me.
I was also surprised to learn that another blue pencil critique I received last year from Surrey RCMP sergeant and published author, Tyner Gillies, is as well remembered by him as it is by me. The thing to realize here is that these people are all very successful in their own rights, and their interactions with the people they help mean a lot to them. They are often just as affected as the people they help.
The feedback, support and encouragement provided to me last year by both Adam and Tyner propelled me to a level of self confidence I never imagined having before, especially with regard to my writing. Without them, I would probably not have rushed home to start the work needed to rework my manuscript to get it finished and I would likely not be writing this blog tonight as there would be absolutely not reason to do so.
I feel I have digressed… back to #CIF2018.
There were panels and workshops galore all weekend. A dealer room was open during most of the festival as well. The dealer room was occupied by tables full of books by presenting authors for sale, publishers Myth Hawker, Pulp Literature, Filidh Publishing and Vancouver Island Paranormal Authors (a small two author company publsihing their own works), Cascadia Author Services, Geek Crossing and Wild Heart Emporium. The dealer room ( as well as hallways, registration area, lobby, etc) was also a great location for meeting up with people having some pretty amazing conversations – I ended up spending an hour receiving some invaluable information, encouragement and general inspiration from Jonas Saul,Randy McCharles, John Mavin, and Jim Jackson.
What is the point of all this? The point is that the Creative Ink Festival is an amazing event for writers at any level. There is networking, friends to be made, free critiques to be had, chances to pitch directly to publishers, editors and agents and for a very small fee ($80 for the whole weekend, additional $25 for the Master Class) the amount of information, contacts, new ideas, possibility to meet writing groups, critique partners, etc, etc is too amazing to pass up. Even if you are the most extreme introvert and don’t talk to anyone, sit in the back of all the panels and workshops, don’t attend the banquet for the keynote address, you will still gain a wealth of information you didn’t have before. More than likely, your lack of participation will be noticed by someone and by the end of the weekend, whether you like it or not, you will have met new people and made contacts you never would have imagined.
And then you know what happens? You go back the next year, tell a whole bunch of people (whether they hear you or not) and have an even better time, because now you know people who want to keep returning to this festival year after year for the warm, encouraging, welcoming family that it is!
For me, my spark has been reignited – my drive, my need to write and in the words of Adam Dreece “No damn it, I’m doing this!”
I really hope I see you next year!