Even if you leave late nights to the partiers, the pace at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference keeps your brain in perpetual motion. Every year I come home emotionally recharged but physically and mentally exhausted. It takes a couple days before my brain kicks into gear again, and I can begin to digest all the nourishment it’s been fed.
During registration I added a fourth day to the Conference package, drawn by the addition of James Scott Bell to the panel of presenters. His Thursday Master Class on Next Level Fiction went way beyond informative –it was stimulating, rejuvenating, and motivating, and the same can be said of the workshops he led over the next three days. He brought a fresh voice to the panel, and shared his expertise with confidence, warmth and humour. (I also had a ‘Blue Pencil’ interview with him that brought light into the darkness of a long-standing genre dilemma. For that alone I am supremely grateful.)
There were many other notable presenters there, too, of course — fifty of them in all — sharing their wisdom and wit. Some were familiar and much-appreciated people from previous years; some were also post-mealtime keynote speakers whose words brought nods of agreement, laughter and standing ovations – Elizabeth Engstrom, Tim Wynne-Jones, Ivan Coyote, Julia Quinn, Arthur Slade. The closing address by Robert Dugoni left me in tears!
I’m not going to try and condense all my notes to share with you. Other conference attendees around the blogosphere are posting theirs, but it’s impossible for me to convey all the benefits of attendance to someone who wasn’t there. Words on a page can’t replicate the experience. I heard more than one presenter call the SiWC the best conference in North America. How can I give it any better accolade than that?
Update: I haven’t provided a lot of conference details here, but DD Shari Green has blogged each day since our return. Check out her posts for a more intimate look at all the highlights, beginning with her post on Monday.