The Humber School for Writers

Tomorrow will be the last day of my full week workshop at The Humber School for Writers. They aren’t blowing smoke when they tell us how fortunate we are. I don’t think many of the close to 80 participants would find anything to argue with in that. Sure, we’ve paid for the privilege, but we’ve gotten incredible bang for the buck.

It’s hilarious to my group, being mentored each morning by none other than @MiriamToews, when she asks us if we aren’t exhausted and overwhelmed, and if we have actually attended any of the afternoon ‘extra’ sessions. We attend every last one, and with remarkably few dud speakers, we are indeed overwhelmed, but only in the best way possible.

This week, we’ve been lucky enough to hang upon the inspiring words of the likes of Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried), Richard Scrimger (Me & Death), Eva Stachniak (The Winter Palace), Bruce Jay Friedman (Splash, The Heartbreak Kid), Joe Kertes (Gratitude), Wayson Choy (Jade Peony), Johanna Skibsrud (The Sentimentalists), Esi Edugyen (Half Blood Blues), David Bezmozgis (The Free World), Alistair MacLeod (No Great Mischief), and finally, our mentor Miriam Toews (A Complicated Kindness, The Flying Troutmans, Irma Voth).

I should also mention the articulate and appealing Craig Payette, Nick Garrison, and Janice Zawerbny who come from the Editing/Publishing World. They gently hacked sample offerings to pieces and made clear what would make those samples better. Every morning we spend workshopping our works-in-progress with our small group and our mentor and after lunch, the afternoon involves talks from other incredible author mentors, agents, and editors.

I have filled pages and pages with helpful notes from these meetings, but just as worthwhile have been the interactions and connections with other like-minded writers. Our ‘student’ readings last night were impressive enough that three hours locked in the room (extending our full day to nearly 12 hours) frankly flew by. I feel privileged to have enjoyed this opportunity and am now ready to dive back into the main manuscript for what I sincerely hope will be the last summer. Thanks to everyone at the workshop for making it what it was. Sad that tomorrow is the last day!