As my plane lands in Winnipeg on a sunny windy September afternoon, 2011 -- must be my church-going, Mennonite background – I want to burst into song. I’ve got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart… Any writer knows the toll writing a novel takes on one’s social life. Writing is a solitary business. But for this fabulous weekend at least, I will not only get to unveil my novel, Kalila, I will belong to a community of writers, some whom I’ve never met; others whom I’ve idolized for years. Minutes later, I’m whisked off by the festival’s fabulous personal taxi service. I drop my bags in my chic room, and head for the Writers’ Lounge.
How to describe my days at Thin Air? Intoxicating. Invigorating. Inspirational. Heart-bursting. The recurring astonishment: worlds that we writers spent so long narrating into existence -- those unruly characters who talked back, refused their places, blatently ignored our directions and marched off after their own ideas, the story lines we agonized over, slashed, recreated, and finally despairingly relinquished control of — exist, lift off the page before packed audiences of story lovers. Each event is defamiliarized, exhilarating, each particular cluster of writers that Charlene Diehl has put together on stage, sifts into a whole greater than the sum of its parts. I am fortunate enough to have the honour to participate in one of Charlene’s intimate book chats, to later share the main stage with esteemed writers. I run into old friends. And equally enriching, I get, time and again, be part of the rapt audience – palpable, that collective passion for story, love of language. The emotional musicality resonating within and between all - those - words. The energy fairly crackles. Which leads to the highlight of my weekend: a late evening at the Afterwords Jazz Club. Steve Kirby and Kristopher Ulrich spilling their rhythms in accompaniment to Steven Ross Smith who is literally throwing words around. A sound/poetry extravaganza. What a note to go out on.
Thin Air is a gift to readers and writers alike to discover, uncover, surrender to the mystery of words, and the myriad of ways the strangeness of truth can move us. I’m so envious of you all this year! Hope to see you again soon!