Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Party Invitation

Barbara here. May is National Crime Writing Month here in Canada, the brainchild of Crime Writers of Canada, which this year has been extensively promoted both by the CBC and the National Post. The initiative began rather modestly some years ago as National Crime Writing Week, a week of readings, signings, workshops and other criminal activities organized at the grass roots level across the country and culminating in the Annual Arthur Ellis Award banquet and Bloody Words Mystery Conference.

However, we crime writers were an eager and enterprising bunch, and we soon discovered we couldn’t fit all the events we wanted to into one week, so for the past couple of years it has expanded to a month. This year, in addition to local readings and displays, the awards banquet and the mystery conference, there are ongoing blogs on the CWC website and the wonderful Canada Writes Crime series on CBC. There is something new on the CBC website every day – writing tips, short stories, contests and challenges, and series of master classes by award-winning and best-selling author Louise Penny. And if you miss a day, all the past posts are archived.

What impresses me most about this endeavour is the warmth and collegiality of the crime writing community. This Canada Writes Crime month is truly a joint effort, as we all pull together to support each other and to shine a spotlight on the best in Canadian crime writing. In addition to Penny, who offers both inspiration and practical advice, veteran writers like Gail Bowen, Peter Robinson and Mary Jane Maffini have contributed brilliant short stories, and other less established authors have won publication through a short story contest. There are lively writing challenges to engage the public in the fun experience of writing crime. As well, thirty established writers have each supplied 100-word writing tips, so that by the end of the month, there will be thirty tips on every topic imaginable from setting to voice to character. My writing tip, on creating an engaging series character, will be posted tomorrow (May 17).

Most writers do so because of a passion, perhaps obsession, to write. We write first for ourselves, and then for our readers and for the publishers and editors who crack the whip. It is often lonely, discouraging work, with long hours and poor pay, but the best rewards are often intangible. The sense of triumph at the end of a book, the pride in a piece well done , the thrill of a good review or an award nomination. The most unexpected reward, and perhaps even the greatest, is the community of fellow writers and friends who welcome you in when you venture into this dark world of crime fiction. Maybe it’s because we’re literary underdogs, small in number, who have to fight for legitimacy, bookstore and review column space, not to mention a place at the table at literary festivals and literary awards. We’ve learned to laugh about it (most of the time, and with a rueful touch) and have a good time together.

Thanks, Crime Writers of Canada and CBC, for giving us a chance to toot our horn! Everyone can check out the party at www.cbc.ca/canadawrites.

2 comments:

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Thiru said...
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