This past weekend I had the privilege of going to Kindling Words East, a writerly get-together that’s part workshop, part retreat, and part party.
Basically, about 75 published children’s and YA authors, illustrators, and editors descend on a hotel/spa in Vermont for three nights, where we attend talks, hold group discussions, write, eat, and enjoy the surroundings. Being in Canada means getting to most of the major writers conferences and conventions isn’t always the easiest for me, so it was great to get to meet a whole lot of colleagues in the field I hadn’t gotten to see in person before, and to get to share experiences with so many people who are in the same boat. I was extra lucky in that one of the YA authors I most admire, E. Lockhart, was leading the older reader strand. And four other 2009 Debs made it there too!
Our time was very flexible. Technically, if you wanted to, you could spend the whole time you’re not taking meals writing (or illustrating, or editing, I suppose). I believe each room comes with a desk like the one in mine:
I am more of a comfy chair writer myself, but that was no problem, as the room had one of those as well! So I just pulled the desk chair over to prop my feet up, like I do at home, and was clattering merrily away on my laptop in no time.
If you’re looking to get involved, there are lots of group activities. Every morning the leaders of each of the strands (older readers and younger readers) gave a talk, and there was a top-secret session just for editors. In the afternoons, anyone who wanted to could write a topic, time, and room on a whiteboard in the main foyer, and all interested persons would join them to discuss that topic at the specified time.
And it wasn’t all about writing. We were given plain masks and decorating materials when we arrived, and on Friday evening we got dressed up for a masquerade ball. First we learned how to dance Jane Austen-style with experienced performers, and then we partied down to some more modern music.
(My decorated mask)
(Debs dressed up: Jenny Moss, Megan Frazer, Erin Dionne, and me)
Other highlights: Readings of works-in-progress by candlelight, a bonfire where we threw our wishes into the flames on scraps of paper to be carried up to the sky, and many great conversations around the breakfast/lunch/dinner table.
I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful time. To those I met there–hope to see you again soon!