Writing is Writing

The 2018 Creative Ink Festival has come to a close.  Creative Ink is a growing grassroots writing festival, for all levels of writers, that takes place yearly in Burnaby, BC.  From the first time I attended the festival three years ago, purely as a volunteer, to this past weekend, where I was hoping to learn how to write, I have grown so much as a writer.

Willow unlocking slayer potential ~ Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Willow unlocking slayer potential ~ Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Ok, that sounds really weird, calling myself a writer.  I don’t actually feel like I am a writer, but after three years attending the festival I finally feel that I could potentially be a writer.  From initial longings of “I wish I could write” to now, actually being willing to potentially call myself a writer, I have the Creative Ink Festival to thank.   I feel like the scythe in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you know the one, it contains the powerful slayer magic that would turn a potential slayer into a full blooded slayer. My potential is locked up, I just need my Willow to help unlock it.  The Creative Ink Festival is my Willow.

You might be wondering why at this point I’m even willing to entertain the idea of calling myself a writer one day.  Well at the 2018 Creative Ink Festival, not only did I help out behind the scenes volunteering, but I also attended a number or presentations, panels and even signed up for the Master Class, taught this year by C.C (Chris) Humphreys.  Chris Humphreys was one of two Guests of Honour for the Festival, a British actor, playwright and novelist, he was a wealth of information and had a lot to share with attendees about writing your first novel.

Something that Chris said during this class really resonated with me. As I mentioned, I’ve always wished that I could write.  This small thought has been something lounging on a fainting couch in the back of my brain for as long as I can remember.  Why couldn't I be a writer?  I never really enjoyed English class back when I was in school, finding it quite boring, and somehow I thought that meant that I couldn’t write.  Why those two things were connected in my brain, I have no idea. Attending the festival the past few years has slowly made me realize that enjoying English class and writing are not actually connected. Maybe I could write one day?

Do. Or Do Not.There is no try. -Yoda.png

One of the things I’ve learned at the festival this year is that even the most celebrated author had to start somewhere.  Kevin Hearne, the other fantastic 2018 Creative Ink Festival Guest of Honour, took 19 years to have his first novel published.  This novel wasn’t even the first one he wrote. His first published novel, Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) was the second novel he wrote.  He wrote Hounded while waiting to find out if his first novel would ever be picked up by a publishing house. He wrote it because his excitement of writing was overwhelming and while he was waiting on his first novel, he needed to output this excitement somewhere.  He wrote Hounded and was published, finally, after nineteen years.

All writers have to start somewhere.  They have to practice again and again, over and over, before they were good, before they would be published.  If that publishing happens traditionally or as a self published novel, all authors still start at the beginning.  If I ever want this background brain thought of wishing I could write to jump up off that fainting couch and stop being a wish, I will actually have to write.

The enthusiasm and encouragement from everyone who attends the Creative Ink Festival has finally infected me to the point where I am going to write.  I have already been doing some blogging, which I have learned this past weekend is still writing, but I really want to write a story. It won’t be good, I am just starting out after all, but I’m starting.  I never would have gotten to this point without the supportive nature of the Creative Ink Festival.  It may have taken three years of attending the Festival for me to get to the point of starting to write a story, but I can 100% tell you, without the Creative Ink Festival I never would have gotten to this point. 

My new notebook, I needed somewhere to write my stories.

My new notebook, I needed somewhere to write my stories.

Never once did I feel like I didn’t belong at the festival because I wasn’t a writer, let alone author. Year after year, everyone from from guests of honour to panellists and presentators and attendees, everyone, they were all willing to stop and chat with you, give support and overall be encouraging to you to continue this craft of writing.  It is rare to find such a positive community that makes you feel like you belong, especially when you don’t feel like you belong in it. The Creative Ink Festival is like that, positive, and I am so glad to be a part of it.  I can’t wait until the 2019 Creative Ink Festival, where I will be attending for the first time as a writer (maybe by next year that won’t feel so weird to say). Over the next year I am going to write a story. It doesn’t have to be good, it doesn’t have to be long, but I am committed to have written something that has a starting, a middle and an end. That is after all the first step to achieving a dream, starting.

"Writing is Writing" 
~ C.C. (Chris) Humphreys

You might be wondering what was it that Chris Humphreys said during the Master Class that made me realize that I could be a writer one day, he said “Writing is Writing”.  Writing is Writing. Such a simple phrase that I found incredibly powerful and I never would have heard this without the festival. The Creative Ink Festival takes your potential and unleashes is upon the world.

My Creative Ink Festival Experience

I am super excited for the upcoming 2018 Creative Ink Festival.  I thought it would be fun to write a little bit about the festival, and what I plan on doing there.

What is the Creative Ink Festival? The Creative Ink Festival is a weekend long event full of inspiring panels, presentations and workshops. Designed to be inclusive for all levels of writing the festival is a way for you to learn and motivate your writing, in whatever form it takes.   This year's festival takes place from May 18 - 20, 2018 at the Delta Burnaby hotel.  Just on the border of Vancouver and Burnaby, BC.

This is the perfect type of festival for someone like me.  Someone who dabbles in writing but is interested in exploring the art form more.  I've always been afraid to attend anything writing based, thinking that I would be looked down at because "I'm not a real writer".  The Creative Ink Festival is so warm and opening and welcoming and everyone who attends is there to teach and to learn.  Not once did I feel like I didn't belong.

I first found out about the festival as my good friend, Sandra Wichkam, is the brains and creative genius behind it. My first experience with the festival were so rewarding that I wanted to see the festival succeed even more than it was already doing.  I now volunteer my time to Sandra, doing pretty much whatever she asks of me.

Helping Sandra at the festival the last few years and the positive energy the festival has lead me to creating my own website, The Artisan Penguin.  I was so inspired that I jumped in head first into blogging.  Mostly I write book reviews, but I do post the occasional random musing.  I also have a few story ideas rattling around the old brain, that may one day make their way out onto the real world.  That's where The Creative Ink Festival comes into play. 

I've never taken any sort of writing class, but I've always had the thought that I wish I could write.  How am I ever going to learn how to write if I don't actively learn how? I was so scared before to attempt a writing class, but this year, in addition to my volunteering at the festival, I plan on attending a bunch of panels, presentations and even went so far as signing up for the Master Class with one of the guest of honour, C.C. Humphreys.  

With Kevin Hearne and C.C. Humphreys as the 2018 Guest of Honours, and an amazing lineup of authors, publishers and writers, I'm sure the festival this year will be even more inspiring than last year's. And if you are wondering what a Master Class is, well it's an intensive writing workshop that should hopefully help me figure out how to write a novel.  

I still have to figure out where my volunteer hours for the festival will be, and since I've seemed to fill up the majority of my time with panels and presentations, I suspect that I might not be able to attend all of these, but the following is my hopeful schedule of events that I will be attending at the Creative Ink Festival for 2018.

My Schedule


  • 09:00 - 12:00, Master Class
    C.C. Humphreys
    Write a novel - from first inspiration to final edit - then submission! Have you got a book in you? Have you always wanted to get it out into the world but lacked the confidence? Then join award-winning, bestselling author Chris (C. C.) Humphreys, for an intensive writing workshop that will help you banish the critic, release your creativity, and introduce you to the secrets of novel construction, character development and sheer storytelling fun. With plenty of exercises to get the fingers and brain moving, and a step by step analysis of what makes a successful, exciting piece of fiction, participants will leave the workshop with the beginnings of a novel and a road map to help you finish it.
  • 13:00, Panel
    Designing Character Backgrounds
    Brenda Carre, Chadwick Ginther, Kevin Hearne, JM Landels, Randy McCharles
    You have an idea for a character, now you have to figure out how to flesh out the character.  

  • 14:00, Panel
    C.C. Humphreys, Eileen Kernaghan, Susan Pieters, S.G (Sandra) Wong
    Research isn't just for non-fiction writers.  Every piece of fiction, no matter the genre, will contain details which, if not accurate, will throw a reader out of a story.  But how do writers do research?  When do they start?  When do they stop?  How do they wade through the quagmire of overwhelming information and choose just the right pieces to weave into their stories?

  • 15:00, Panel
    The Grey Side of Anti-Heros
    Michele Fogal (M), Joshua Pantalleresco, T. G. Shepherd, Bevan Thomas
    We should hate them, but we love them. They have major flaws; they sometimes do the right thing for the wrong reasons or vice versa. How do you create an anti-hero that will draw in your readers and never let them go? (Discussion of what an anti-hero is may also come up!)

  • 16:00, Panel
    Find Your Writer’s Voice
    Adam Dreece (M), Kevin Hearne, Linda DeMeulemeester, Susan Pieters
    What does that even mean? How do you find it and when will you know if you have found it? How do you make it one that stands out from all the rest?

  • 19:00, Presentation
    Creating Immersive Worlds
    Adam Dreece
    We love those types of story worlds where we are so pulled in, we feel the dampness of the air on our skin, and hear the croaking of the spider-goats in the fields. But how can we shake our imaginations loose and do that? Adam Dreece shares his lessons and thoughts from bringing his steampunk meets fairytale, post-apocalyptic fantasy, gritty sci-fi future, and other worlds to life.


  • 11:00, Panel
    Feeding Your Muse
    Mel Anastasiou (M), C.C. (Chris) Humphreys, Michele Fogal, Jim Jackson, KT Wagner
    The creative process can often be a tricky one, and it is easy to fall into ruts or hit a blank wall. Our panelists will discuss how to develop ideas, create compelling subject matter, and what do next when you find yourself stuck, not knowing what to do for your next piece of art, writing or other creative project.
  • 12:00, Presentation
    Writing Short Fiction
    KT Wagner
    In 2018 there are a lot of good reasons to write short stories. The form is enjoying a resurgence of popularity and it’s an excellent path to reaching readers and connecting with publishers. Writing short is also a way to test-drive other genres and stretch your creative muscles. More than fifteen of KT Wagner’s short stories are published or pending. She’ll share her perspective and approaches in this class.
  • 14:00, Presentation
    Practical Linguistics in the Development of Voice
    Kevin Hearne
            (I don't even know what this one is yet, it just sounds like something that I could use).

  • 15:00, Panel
    Plot or Character: Which Comes First? 
    Brenda Carre (M), Manny Frishberg, Trevor Melanson, Kristene Perron
    What is most important to a good story: a fast moving and/or engaging plot to carry you away, or characters that you can identify with, or at least care about? You can have one without the other, but when should you? And, does plot emerge from character needs and desires, or are they born to serve the plot?

  • 16:00, Panel
    Creating Believable Characters
    Krista Wallace (M), Kevin Hearne, Brenda Carre, Adam Dreece, Kevin Harkness
    How do you convince your readers that your imaginary friends are real … at least in your story?

  • 17:00, Banquet
    Keynote Speech at Banquet
    Adam Dreece
    Adam Dreece presents, "The Power of, No, Damnit, I'm Doing This

  • 19:00, Panel
    Live Action Slush - General Edition
    Manny Frishberg (M), Mel Anastasiou, Randy McCharles, Rhonda Parrish, Susan Pieters, Krista Wallace (Reader)
    Our panel of editors and publishers listen to anonymously read story openings and comment on why they would or would not wish to consider the complete work. Bring the 1st page of your manuscript (please leave your name off the page!) to be read aloud and receive comments from our panel of authors and editors. This event is both fun and educational -- don’t miss it!


  • 12:00, Presentation
    How to Build a Good Story
    John Mavin
    Good stories don’t just happen, they’re built, and as architects use blueprints, writers need sound structures to create effective emotional journeys for their readers. In this session we’ll explore the structural elements shared by all stories (from linear to unconventional), uncover the differences between plot and structure, and give you the tools to build emotionally satisfying stories again and again.

  • 14:00, Presentation/Workshop
    Improvising Into Writing
    Manny Frishberg
    I learned most of the essential elements of writing fiction (in particular) by doing improvisational theatre. Like all theatre, improv is, at heart, storytelling. As is fiction writing, so it’s not surprising to find ways they connect. In this participatory workshop, we use improv games and exercises to explore character, setting and plot in a new way. Be prepared to get up and move (with appropriate accommodation for disabilities, of course).

It's not too late to attend the 2018 Creative Ink Festival yourself.  Online registration is available until May 4th, 2018 and then you can plan on purchasing your membership at the event itself after May 4th.  Weekend passes are as low as $80 if you purchase online or $100 at the Festival.  Check it out!