Surrey Writer’s Con (Act 3 – Or Chatty-Joe Returns)

Joe’s Post #65

sleepSaturday night I slept the sleep of the dead. Well, I wasn’t really dead, but I was sure exhausted. Not that Saturday was bad, quite the contrary, but I was no longer running pitches and queries in my head, or reviewing how I could have said something funnier, smarter, more amazing while sitting with the agents/editors. Like most people, at 3am I can usually come up with that perfect thing to say about 8 hours ago. Oh for a time machine.

Anyway, Sunday, I had only fun workshops remaining. One about travel writing, one of my favourite things to do, and one about writing captivating YA fiction.

What could go wrong?

Nothing. I mean, not really. I had a huge headache, somehow I managed to miss breakfast and the opening keynote speech, (writing this blog, actually, and thinking that the whole thing started a bit later than it did…) but nothing serious.

First up, the YA workshop.

But I arrived a bit early and being all Chatty-Joe again, talked to the presenter, Janet Gurtler, and one of the amazing volunteers setting up the projector.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the conversation (and why I must remember how much fun writer’s conferences can be…)

Let’s call this The Hooker Conversation.

Setting: Nearly empty meeting room. Autumn light filtering in through the blinds. I am sitting in a typical conference chair, my laptop on my lap, a timmies at my feet.

We began to talk about mistaken identity.

“I have a good story,” the volunteer said.

I do like good stories, so I said, “Do tell.”

“Everyone thinks I’m someone else,” she says. “But I’m from a small town of 2000 people. I shouldn’t know that many people. But there I was, in calgary, and someone totally comes up to me, stops, looks me up and down, then pauses for a moment before asking, ‘so how much this time?'”


We laugh.

“But that wasn’t the only time,” the volunteer continues, “In my home town, same thing. Someone approaches me and asks how much? Weird, right? I mean, I wasn’t even dressed like a hooker.”

“I dunno,” I said. “If that was happening to me, I’d work on my price point. Like $10,000 or something.”


The volunteer shakes her head.”So, then when I say I’m not one of those girls he scowls, nods and then asks if I want to go for coffee. ”

“Awesome!” I say. “The guy came in thinking he’d have to pay $200 and now’s hoping he can get it for a cup of coffee. This guy’s got great business sense. He’s a keeper.”

We all laugh again.

“I didn’t do coffee with him,” she says. “I knew what he was all about.”

And the conversation shifts to the projector in the room, something none of us seem to know how to work.

IMG_1557But that was so typical of the conversations that I had over the last 3 days, of the cool little social interactions that happened. Except for Friday night (when I was so done, I can’t even remember what table I sat at for supper, what food I ate, what people I slumped beside), I had such a great time connecting with other writers. There might even be a picture of me being social somewhere.

I got to catch up with Craig Shemilt, from Island Blue, the man who managed to print out the Book of Margot in 3 days so it could be ready for her funeral. I feel I owe him a debt I can never quite repay, but it was good to reconnect and great to hear he was newly married and his business was booming.

I also met a few people who had followed the 5 writers and wanted to say hi, (so awesome!), managed a few seconds with my friend, Jenny, (a published writer) who always seems so bubbly and positive that I want to bottle a part of that and save it for the ‘down days’. I hung with my writer friend, Elena, talked with Tricia who I’d met last year at the conference, joked with Erin, and Jody about what not to do to get an agent, commensurated with a woman who got beat up in the ‘Idol’ workshop, looked massively uncomfortable as one guy spent 20 minutes trying to get me to buy his novel, and, very oddly, loved every 2 minute conversation I had with people about the conference or their writing or what they thought of that guy pitching his novel to everyone.

What a difference a day makes in how I perceived things.

Or what a difference a good sleep makes.

6 thoughts on “Surrey Writer’s Con (Act 3 – Or Chatty-Joe Returns)

  1. 90%? I dunno; I told someone 80%, but we definitely did outnumber. 🙂 It was enlightening to connect faces to names. I ran into you in the food lineup, Joe, and thereafter saw you at a distance a couple times. I love this conference but there are SO many people there, it’s hard to interact on a personal level with many of them.

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