Wordstock 2010: Back to the basics
By Emmanuel Samoglou
Few people would envy me right now.
I'm sitting in a little room at 4 a.m., listening to police respond to various calls around Toronto. One eye on the computer screen, the other on the spoon that I'm using to shovel cold, leftover lentils and basmati into my mouth.
Fewer people would understand why I would forgo the opportunity to rest before this bout with nocturnality. Instead, I attended a writers' workshop to learn how to more effectively administer this perceived torture. At this point, they might think I’m bordering on masochism.
In reality, I just really enjoy telling people stories, and want to learn how I can do it better.
Roughly 120 people joined me at Wordstock 2010. This year’s theme, “Back to the Basics” was a departure from previous years which have dealt primarily with new journalism tools and styles. We went back to the basics this time round, focusing on writing, editing, and effective story telling.
It began with a keynote from the Globe and Mail's Ian Brown. Being the fantastic storyteller he is, the award-winning writer had the auditorium in hysterics as he wove a wonderful medley of tales from the field with advice on how writers can step up their game. Advice ranged from the basics (“write what actually happens”), to calling out the industry on preserving the role of the editor in the writing process.
From there, registrants went to workshops on a wide array of topics, among them: Packing great writing into less than 1,000 words, (re)discovering the joy of creative writing, and a module designed to help writers overcome their fear of writing about sex.
It was hard not to feel inspired as we listened to a host of dedicated individuals talk about their craft with a passion. It became obvious through the day that, along with natural talent, this was a chief ingredient in their recipes for success - An overwhelming desire to tell readers a good story and keep their attention for more than nine seconds.
Caring about how the story is told as much as the story itself, find the human connection, connecting with the reader...
Writing can be torture. But as those that attended Wordstock can attest, it can be loads of fun.