By Jake Taber
A couple weekends ago, three TBAW editors, including myself, attended Young Voices’ annual ‘young writers’ conference up at the York Mills Public Library, a day of writing workshops led by professionals from various corners of the business. While I was ditched after the morning session, and though my writing skill suffered some not-insignificant shame at the hands of a few uncannily eloquent 11-year-olds, I got quite a bit out of my time there. Successful authors, filmmakers, and artists were open to questions about technique or getting noticed and published, and it was interesting to see just how many tracks one can take to a full-time career in the arts. There was also an open mic; not as enjoyable, in my personal opinion, and a little extraneous. We writers are already quite aware of the uniqueness of our inner snowflakes, and showing everyone’s off wasn’t really necessary.
In any case, the lectures we chose to attend were both great: in the morning, hockey-pro-turned-filmmaker Charles Officer talked about scriptwriting and the translation of story to film, and after lunch published author Lea Bobbitt talked about both surrealist description and the nature of writing as a job. I was reminded, in both cases, that getting recognition is very hard, and that J.K Rowling is a pretty substantial outlier when it comes to salary. Most importantly, though, both speakers stressed that such work is never impossible; the path leading to it just switchbacks a lot more, and sometimes (oftentimes) doubles back or loops around. I thought that seeing the living proof of the endpoint of such paths was important, maybe a little comforting.
If you’re not a senior this year I’d recommend you go to next years’ conference. Just remember, about 90% of the middle-schoolers you’ll meet there will be better than you.