Thursday, June 9, 2016

Canadian Authors guest Wayde Compton delves into the mysterious calling of the writer

On Wednesday, June 8, Wayde Compton was the featured speaker for Canadian Authors Vancouver. A poet and essayist who runs the Creative Writing programs for Continuing Studies at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies, he won the 2015 City of Vancouver book award for his collection of linked short stories, The Outer Harbour.

Wayde read to us, then talked about his work, riveting the audience with his comments on the mysterious nature of writing, in all its disparate phases. Whether a work is small or large, he says, the writer must face a rupture somewhere in the midst of the process.

The initial certainty is "a fortress," but a good writer stays open to what mysteriously shows up to change that vision. This raises the work from the specific story experience to a general human experience, giving it broader appeal.

A writer's journey is to realize what Keats called this "negative capability." We must work through the immobilizing fear and apparent failure that characterize the point of rupture. We need faith to write through the unwelcome discovery that the project is far from what we originally envisioned.

During Wayde's reading, I suffered with Fletcher, who "never met any of his blood relatives." I was also struck by the images of "dirt, from ground floor to glass ceiling," and diaspores, seeds that drift to new places and take root. Finally, I felt an unsettling thrill as I pictured the "black ship of hindsight, gold nails in its seams," skimming across the sea with the wind "in charge."

The evening of satisfying writerly wisdom and conversation was the last before Vancouver branch's July summer break.

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