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Announcement

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Start Writing has a new home at CSI Annex. Here’s a wave goodbye to our long-term digs on College Street.


489 College Street has been the address of my writing groups since 2012. I have shared the building’s multi-purpose boardroom with other creative, educational, and wellness programs needing occasional space. Last week I learned that the boardroom is closing up shop. No new bookings are being accepted after July 1st.  This effectively means that the current session of Writers’ Boot Camp will be the last Start Writing workshop until a new location is found.

By the numbers

Over the last six+ years, I’ve hosted over 500 writers, 50 workshops and nearly 600 individual sessions on College Street. Together we completed (roughly) 1,628 in-group exercises and shared 11,183 stories. Some of these pieces appeared in anthologies or literary journals I published over this span. These numbers are more accurate than you might guess, and they kind of blow my mind.

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I adopted Milo about 1/3 of the way through this residency. While the three flights of stairs have left most of us writers catching our breath, I’ve watched him tackle them 300+ times with glee and abandon before conking out under my chair. I have no doubt he’s going to miss the space (and some of your legs).

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What’s next (for me)

I’ll be running another workshop at The Power Plant in August. The 2018 Start Writing Annual is in production en route to an October launch. There may be some one-off events in the summer, but no multi-week groups like Writers’ Boot Camp for the foreseeable future.

Workshop vets may be aware I have been running The Finishers out of The Green Beanery for the last few seasons. I really like their “Evil Supervillain Vault” for small groups. The space isn’t large enough to accommodate the 10-12 writers that I feel works best with the AWA method however. And so I’ll likely be spending a good chunk of the summer scouring alternative venues like storefronts, studios, co-working spaces, and your place.

I don’t know how long this process will take or where it will lead. I do promise to keep you posted.

What’s next (for you)

First, remember that a writer is someone who writes. If you write, you are a writer. You already own the tools you need to keep going and improve your craft. As Stephen King put it in On Writing:

You don’t need writing classes or seminars any more than you need this or any other book on writing . . . I learned the most valuable (and commercial) part of my life’s work while washing motel sheets and restaurant tablecloths at the New Franklin Laundry in Bangor. You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.

Second, remember that there are no scientific answers to creative challenges. I am frequently asked variations on these questions from emerging and established writers: how do I increase tension? How do I write great dialog? Is my idea any good? Should I do research or plot outlining first? How much should I be writing every day? How can I improve my writing practice? Did you finish Infinite Jest?

If you have a question about the process or craft of writing, I consider this to be the best and truest answer:

If you care enough, you’ll figure it out.
– David Mamet

You may consider Mamet’s words unsatisfactory in the moment. But if you repeat it, combine it with the previous quote and the guidance of your own favourite artists, you’ll be well on your way.

Third, you may wish to continue interacting with other writers at workshops and literary events. If so, I highly recommend this post from the North York Writers group. It’s a few years old yet still covers groups and lists I consider important like The Patchy Squirrel Listserve and Open Book Toronto: https://bit.ly/2I2t1tE

This isn’t goodbye

College Street hasn’t been perfect. The room was usually too warm or too cold. It was a pain to reach by transit. But it was accessible to all, it was the scene of thousands of small victories, it was home, and it will be missed. I thank Spearhead Developments for supporting creative, educational and wellness programs over the years. It has been a great run.

As for you, my fellow writers: it may be some time before our pens again cross paths, but this isn’t goodbye. It’s just au revoir. I wish you good luck managing your write/life balance. I am always happy to hear from you.

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