Turning Points

One of the really wonderful things for me about the SiWC is getting the chance to witness, hear about, and share in turning points for the writers who attend. For some, it's meeting their agent or getting that book deal. If you've been following our blog, you've seen some of those good news stories here. For others, it's that moment when they are finally able to say "I'm a writer" and believe it.

Over at the Prairie Chicks blog, writer Pamela Callow describes her own turning points, including a chance meeting across a SiWC banquet table with the very editor she was hoping to meet: http://prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com/2010/01/welcome-pamela-callow.html

If you're a Vancouver local, chances are you've spent some time in Duthie Books over the years. Sadly, the last remaining location will be closing at the end of February after half a century as part of the Vancouver landscape. http://www.vancouversun.com/Vancouver+Duthie+books+shut+down+after+years/2459603/story.html 

Every time I think of Duthie Books, I think of one of my favourite turning point stories: Michael Slade's tale of the gift Bill Duthie gave him as a young teen. He shared the story for us in a video interview with kc dyer, posted here in'08: http://www.siwc.ca/blogs/siwcadmin/michael-slade-video-interview 

Do you have your own turning point story to share? We'd love to hear about it in the comments.


I suppose the key turning point in my career was at the SIWC. Winning the poetry prize four times since 2001 was a wonderful experience. But you see, I am a fiction writer. I write novels. So I was trying to win the fiction prize but kept winning poetry. I have written hundreds of poems. But what I think happened was, my poetry was shaping my fiction in amazing ways and helped develop my own voice/style. I was rewarded in 2009 with the publication of my novel Flight of the Dragonfly by Borealis Press. But the most influencial turning point was this sentence I read 20 year ago. "Once you have written, nothing else satisfies." A wonderful curse.

For me the first real turning point in my writing was when I signed up to attend Surrey International Writers Conference in 2007.
The story is a bit...well complicated. In truth, I tried to tell it yesterday and it ended up over 1200 words long. Hmmm, the danger of asking a writer to tell a story. Oh well you asked...
For years, I swore I had no creativity, not for writing or anything else. But deep inside I really wanted to write. Whenever I was alone for a few minutes I told myself bits of stories I kept “on file” in my brain. I always had two or three going at once and could pull up whichever I wanted. Doesn’t everyone fall asleep telling themselves stories at night?
There is an author who really inspired me and who helped me realize my potential even though I had never met her. Her name is Kelley Armstrong. I started reading her writing in January of 2006. I picked up Bitten when my husband, Jason, was going to be out of town for a week.
I enjoyed the book so much I explored her web site. I discovered that she had three children, and had written the book I enjoyed so much while working a full time job.
I had three kids and a job, and I really wanted to write.
So I did. I wrote a full science fiction manuscript of just over 100,000 words. The manuscript didn’t completely suck either. ;-) In the midst of this my family and I moved across the country from Maryland to Seattle.
One day shortly after our move I was surfing the interweb and hit Kelley Armstrong’s site. Turns out she was going to be signing books at a writer’s conference in a place called Surrey. A place not all that far from our new home.
I casually asked Jason, how he felt about me heading up there and getting a book or two signed since she had, after all, inspire me to put pen to paper. My husband thought this was a good idea. Except he thought I should attend the conference. After all it was a conference for writers and wasn’t I a writer he asked.
And there it was… the question… was I a writer?
Should I attend this conference? Was I a writer? Was I in fact a person with creativity and potential? Was I a person who went to writers conferences and told stories? Or was this one story just a freak, an anomaly? I had to decide who and what I was I had to make a decision about myself. Was I going to continue to look at myself and say “I am not creative.”
Or was I going to acknowledge that I wanted to tell the stories that where in my head to the rest of the world, not just to myself.
I signed up to go to the conference. That act was the first turning point in recognizing myself as a writer.
The story could end there. Except it doesn't...the story only gets more exciting…

Your passage; "For years, I swore I had no creativity, not for writing or anything
else. But deep inside I really wanted to write. Whenever I was alone
for a few minutes I told myself bits of stories I kept “on file” in my
brain. I always had two or three going at once and could pull up
whichever I wanted. Doesn’t everyone fall asleep telling themselves
stories at night?".  It was like reading about myself...except, I thought, I was the only one who had multiple stories filed in my head, available for telling when things were slow and just before falling asleep at night.  Wow....I am happy to know that I am not the only person out there who "thinks" this way.  I am currently working on my first book, but alas life (ie: kids, husband and a full time job do interupt the thought pattern).  If you say it can be done, there is hope for me.  Thanks for your post.

Thank you for sharing. Honestly I'm glad it's not just me either. :) It's so nice to know we aren’t alone in the world.
And trust me there is hope - although it is difficult to remember that some days. So I will remind us both.
You know how I said the story got more exciting? Well, my second SiWC Turning Point was as huge for me as my first but it was a little more public. The first was a private realization that I was a writer. The second was a public acknowledgment that my words were worth reading.
So my husband took it upon himself to do a bit of research on this conference and found out there was a short story contest. He encouraged me to enter. I was reluctant since I had never written a short story before. However he talked me into it.
I wrote a science fiction story set in the same universe as the novel manuscript I had finished and sent it off to the contest never expecting to hear anything about it ever again.
I cannot tell you how shocked I was when KC Dyer called me and told me I had won the Storytellers award that year. I am still awed every time I read the amazing things Diana Gabaldon said about my story and my writing. All I can think is wow, she’s talking about me.
So yup…hope. Christine.

SIWC 2006 was my first writers' conference. The workshops and keynotes were amazing, but in addition to a great time of learning, the weekend was also, for me, a "coming out of the closet" experience, and truly it was that weekend that I was "finally able to say 'I'm a writer' and believe it." So thank you, SIWC! Can't wait for October.... ;)

Hi Kathy, I just want to add that SIWC will always hold a special place in my heart, not only because it marked the beginning of my professional career as an author. It is an excellent conference for writers. It gave me a great fix of both craft and industry. I enjoyed it immensely! Pam

Sorry about the ugly post. I copied and pasted from Word. Sorry.

Hi Christine, we removed the ugly MSWord spew for ya!

Thanks so much for sharing your stories. I've loved reading about them! Hope we'll see you all back in October.

Have a turning point story you'd like to share? Join the party by posting here in the comments.