PROVIDENCE BAY—Gail Anderson-Dargatz, the BC-based author known for her Giller Prize shortlisted works ‘The Cure For Death by Lightning’ and ‘A Recipe For Bees,’ wants to share her love for fiction writing, and Manitoulin, through her first Providence Bay Writers’ Camp. The camp is to be held Sunday, July 19 to Friday, July 24.
“Engaging daily discussions on writing and the writing life with Gail and the other writers,” an excerpt from her website states. “In our morning workshop we’ll focus on your own writing and on craft, but throughout the week, we’ll also talk about the business end of writing, publishing and promoting your work.” For those new to Manitoulin, there will be plenty of opportunity to explore the largest freshwater island in the world too.
“This is our first camp on the Island, but I taught in the University of British Columbia Creative Writing MFA program for almost a decade,” Ms. Anderson-Dargatz told The Expositor. “Part of that job was to offer workshops and panel discussions during our summer residencies on the Vancouver campus. I’ve also run writing workshops at other venues for over 20 years, and now teach writers around the world privately online, through my forums. I’ve taken what I learned about holding these kinds of intensive workshops and crafted a much more intimate retreat to suit the relaxed environment in Providence Bay. The morning workshops at the camp will focus on individual manuscripts, but the best discussions on craft happen during those social moments: over coffee, during our planned activities, or walking on that gorgeous boardwalk along the beach. Writers at the camp will also have plenty of down time to write, or to explore this magical island on their own.”
She explained that there are only two seats left open for the camp. “I expected writers would come largely from Northern Ontario and Toronto, but we have writers coming from the US and other parts of Canada,” Ms. Anderson-Dargatz. “Obviously, I’m delighted. Manitoulin is a huge draw for people, and many of the writers at the camp already have connections here.”
All levels of writer are welcome at the camp, the author explained. “We have a mix of experienced writers, emerging writers and newbies. I’ve been teaching creative writing for twenty years now and I know from experience that the best workshops have this mix. The experienced writers most often learn as much from the newbies as the less experienced writers do from them.”
“In all the teaching I do, from my online mentorships to face to face workshops, I enjoy working with writers at all levels, from emerging writers to seasoned pros,” Ms. Anderson-Dargatz continued. “Our goal in these camp workshops is to make everyone feel at home and comfortable. It’s always a little intimidating to show your work to others, no matter how experienced you are (I still get the jitters handing over my work to my editor!). And writing fiction can seem intimidating, especially writing a novel. Part of my job is to take away something of the mystery and help writers to walk through and overcome their fears. We all stumble over similar issues and feelings as we learn this very complicated craft. Again, our goal with the camp is to create a relaxed, social environment in which all writers can feel at ease and can make friends who they can continue to work with once the camp is over. As part of the camp, writers have access to our online camp forum, where they can continue to connect with myself and each other over the coming year.”
Ms. Anderson-Dargatz was asked whether Manitoulin has been home to some of her best work and whether she finds it an inspiring place to write.
“Oh, I’ve done a ton of writing on Manitoulin, “ she responded. “While I tend to set my fiction in my home country, the Shuswap-Thompson region of BC, I’ve come to Manitoulin for the past several years to do the actual writing. The landscape and the community in Providence Bay inspire me like nowhere else. The Island really is magical. It’s the perfect place to run a writing retreat. My goal in offering the Providence Bay Writers’ Camp was to introduce other writers to that magic. I know many of them will return.”
The Providence Bay Writers’ Camp takes place from July 19 to July 24 with a cost of $975. Registration for those two remaining spots is due by May 31. To register, or for more information, please cotact Ms. Anderson-Dargatz by emailing her at email@example.com.