Creative Writing

Saying Goodbye the Write Way.

Tonight, Story451 celebrated the conclusion of our five-week creative writing workshop with the kids from Kerry’s Place Autism Services. We said goodbye the same way we said hello: with plenty of activities, discussion, art, laughter and hugs.

The kids were in full-on creative mode throughout the session. Initially, we thought they might be reluctant to share and participate with their parents in the room. But as has been the case the whole time we were together, they defied expectations and even managed to inspire their family to participate and share in the activities as well.

The past five weeks have been a trip. As a collective, we traveled beyond the reach of the human eye, to settle on a new planet and build something from the ground up. We wrote about character and conflict and discussed what the perfect world could look like. We read some Ray Bradbury, short stories, poetry, watched videos and even sang a couple of songs. We created a new planet with new laws, where all would be equal, where outsiders would be insiders, and strangers would be friends.

The kids were happy to have place where they could be safe and respected. We were happy to have space where we could try different things and learn something new. So much of what we did over the past five weeks was about exploring far away places, but what we were really doing was exploring our inner selves.

Personally, the biggest lesson I took away from all of this was this: I learned that we didn’t have to use our imaginations to create a world filled with respect, dignity, magic and art. All we had to do was meet the kids from Kerry’s Place in the basement of the Tweedsmuir United Church.

I’ll miss the kids.



photo-8Wall Poetryphoto-7photo-6photo-5photo-4photo-2photo-1photo 1photo-3


Captain’s Log: Week Two

Creative Writing Workshop with Kerry’s Place Autism Services.

We’ve landed and hit the floor running. This afternoon’s workshop was a whirlwind of ideas, readings, blasts (prompts), games of catch, newcomers, outsiders and cupcakes. I was so proud of our group today. We welcomed two new members into the fold, and both were willing to work and share from the get-go. As a group, we managed to come up with a name for our ship (101X). We also agreed upon a name for our planet (Upotia) and a name for the city that we will inhabit and populate (Atleor).

Maybe it was the smell of spring in the air, or maybe it was the fact that the writing group was starting to feel like more than just a group of people that got together to write- either way, something special happened today. Great things happen when you get a group of young people together and give them a chance to speak, to listen, to think and to share. These kids have so much to say, and I’m humbled in their presence. The focus of today’s group was ‘character’ and these kids have plenty of it.

When we talked about how they wanted things to be run on the new planet, they wrote about wanting a place where bullying didn’t exist, where everybody was equal, where people had to write at least one thing everyday. One girl wanted it to be a place where she “could be thirteen years old forever.” Another one wanted it to be a place where “everybody gets a chance to be themselves.” They were writing about what they wanted to see on Upotia, but you know they were writing about what they wanted to see right here on planet Earth.

(I’d like to think we can offer these things- if only for an hour and a half each week)

At the end of today’s workshop, we discovered that we may not be the only species on the planet. Things are going to get real hectic.

Stay tuned.




When Spending More Means Saving More

Today I walked into my local bookstore and purchased two books; today I walked out of my local bookstore $12 poorer because I did not purchase those same two books online. I have decided to seriously curb my online book purchases (I can hardly be expected to give it up completely) and have made a promise to support my community by purchasing most of my books from local, independent stores.

For years now I have been buying online for the same reasons as most online shoppers: heavy discounts, free shipping incentives, gift cards, convenience, etc).

But a few weeks back all that changed.

A local bookstore was raising funds for a bookstore in High River Alberta  that had been severely damaged in the floods. A portion of each sale would be donated to the cause. I only found out about the event after it had already ended, but the owner said she would make sure that the money got to where it needed to go. After paying for the book (Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers) I thanked the owner for allowing me to help, and for setting such a good example to others.

She looked at me and smiled. “That’s why we need to support our community. Tell me what Jeff Bezos (owner of Amazon) has done for his customers in Calgary.”

Damn. Her words hit me like a slap in the face.

Walking out of her shop, I knew my shopping habits would change. I realized that shopping online may have saved me money, but shopping locally helped save something so much more important.