The Summer Workshop at Humber School of Writers is focused and intense. It'll be more so from Monday.
Amis doesn’t share the gloom that permeates the world of the printed word. He was the star of the day but he wears his celebrity hood lightly. Amis is among the 15 writers that met their group at the workshop today. Among them are writers of such eminence as Isabel Huggan, Nino Ricci, and Wayson Choy.
I felt squeamish when Amis did a thorough job in detailing why Updike’s collection of short stories doesn’t work. But his review ends with high praise: “Updike's creations live, and authorial love is what sustains them. He put it very plainly in his memoir, Self-Consciousness: ‘Imitation is praise. Description expresses love.’ That love, at least, never began to weaken.”
The three most purposeful sessions at the workshop were:
- CEO, HaperCollins Canada David Kent’s pithy views on the publishing industry in Canada
- Instant (Flash) assessments by John Pearce, literary agent, Westwood Creative, Lynne Henry, publisher, House of Anansi, of the submissions made by 20 participants. This session was a frank and often brutal
- Alex Schultz of Penguin Canada gave self-editing tips
I don’t mean that the others sessions were not. The sessions with Humber’s students who have become published authors was also insightful.
Then I met Isabel Huggan. When Humber’s Madeleine Matte had informed me that I’d be assisting Huggan, I had borrowed her book The Elizabeth Stories from the library at The Village Terraces, where I worked as a security guard. I wrote about the book here in April.
Today, when I met her, she came across as a strong-willed and focussed. A superb writer, who I’m sure is also a brilliant teacher.
Memorable quote from Huggan: “All writing is rewriting.”
Image: Martin Amis: http://www.ica.org.uk/thumbnail.php?max=408&id=2880