Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Left Coast Crime

I have just returned home from Left Coast Crime in Vancouver, where I had a "whale of a time". The weather is the perfect metaphor for my adventure. I left frigid, snowbound Ottawa, which has broken all sorts of records for snow, cold, and just plain dreariness this winter, and arrived in Vancouver to five straight days of cloudless blue sky, glorious sun, and temperatures of 13 - 17C. Everywhere I looked, fruit trees and daffodils were in bloom. I listened to writers I have long admired, like Guest of Honour Maureen Jennings and Local Legend Bill Deverell, and learned from their insight into character, their dedication to research, and their continued passion for their craft. I met old friends, made new ones, talked about all things writerly, and was uplifted and inspired by the warmth and enthusiasm all around me.

Talking to mystery fans at the author speed dating

I also took long walks along the sea wall past the downtown glass spires and the towering forests in Stanley Park. Sometimes I was with fellow writers, talking lazily about books and publishing and new hopes, and sometimes I walked by myself, escaping from the crush and hype of the conference to be with my own thoughts. I listened to the sea, watched the hordes of migrating birds, and breathed in the salt air.

A beautiful wood duck paddling in Lost Lagoon

What a balm to the spirit!

Writers work in isolation, often for years, with little encouragement or guidance and a very uncertain goal at the end of the journey. We have to maintain a belief in ourselves in the face of rejection letters, dismal earnings, and nasty reviews. To sustain us, we cherish the companionship, advice, and affirmation of other writers who share what often feels like an aimless trek through the wilderness. Crime writers are a peculiar subset of this wandering clan. Not only do we wrestle with mushy middles and characters gone awry, but we also think about the best places to bury bodies and the least detectable way to kill people. We get inspired by a steep staircase and a dark motive. It's a great thrill and relief to meet kindred souls who share these twisted interests. We inspire and excite one another. We make each other laugh when the rest of the world, including our families, look at us askance.

A walk along the sea wall with Brenda Chapman
Now I am back in Ottawa, where the temperature is 15C colder and the snow in my front yard is still 18 inches deep. Back to my taxes and to my neglected first draft. But I am filled with new energy, some fresh ideas, and renewed hope that spring, as it always does, will come.

1 comment:

Sybil Johnson said...

Sounds like you had fun. Sorry I missed it. Love the picture of the duck.