Friday, July 31, 2009

A Right Time for Everything, Guest Blog by Pat Irwin Lycett

I’ve been writing all my life, never with a view to publishing (still don’t, except in newspapers, usually letters to the editor).

Three years ago I read about the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region in the Oshawa paper; tried the number listed, to no avail, gave up for a number of reasons. One year later, in May, I came across the number again and made contact. There really is a right time for everything!

In July, same year, WCDR announced that Fred Ford was planning a Wednesday night class, Writing Is Hard Work (WIHW), to be held every second Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:45 at the Pickering Library. We began meeting in September. There were about twelve of us, some poets, most writing fiction; that lasted until Christmas, when a few melted away. Some new folks were added from a waiting list, and we’re now finishing our second year with a tight group of seven, including Fred. We’ve grown quite close, and we love one another’s fictional characters.

I discovered after about eight months in class that I was actually interested in memoir, and joined Allyson Latta’s eye-opening North York Central Library four-week workshop series. It was well worth my drive to Toronto.

For our bi-weekly Pickering class, three members e-mail a chapter, usually by the prior Wednesday, for discussion the following week. We critique in writing at home, then present our comments in the group, and end the evening by handing across heavily-marked written material.

With a total of seven people, it can make a rather light evening if two of our group are unable to come; so the move for this fall is to accept perhaps two to three new people into the fold, and Fred is presently interviewing new candidates. I am the only one writing memoir, and adding a new memoirist has been ruled out by the group! They would be interested in adding a writer of town history, perhaps, just to add balance. Many of us occasionally submit poetry, one writes travelogues, most are working on The Great Novel; the age range of our group is 40 to 72.

Learning to write my memoirs has been a gradual process, coupled with my planning what turned out to be a well-attended family reunion, held last August in Orono. While in the process of reunion planning, I chanced upon my mother’s old family history, which really started the ball rolling. I’m now pretty dedicated, trying all sorts of techniques – a train ride has been suggested – and themes to carry the memoir through.

In the group we’re all free with our opinions, and we don’t always agree with Fred, but he is the leader, and he’s pretty good. Writing groups can have many varied formats, and I consider myself lucky that I landed in this one, as I needed a group with some structure.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Los Parronales Writers' Retreat Photos

Let's try that photo link again:


Los Parronales Writers' Retreat

Join me in Chile, February 2010, when I'll be editor-in-residence at Los Parronales Writers' Retreat

“Journeys and Discoveries” Writing Holiday in the Sun

Don't miss this unique opportunity in February 2010 to combine writing and travel.

Los Parronales Writers’ Retreat in Santiago, Chile, has invited me to present the workshop series “Journeys and Discoveries: Writing from Your Life” from February 7 to 21. This two-week writing holiday will engage writers who are eager to explore and develop their own memoirs or experience-based fiction. The retreat offers an inspiring and relaxing blend of morning workshops and private editorial consultations with me, plus space and opportunity in surroundings conducive to solitary creative writing or community with like-minded writers.

Set on a privately owned 60-hectare property in the Andean foothills near Santiago, Chile, Los Parronales – Spanish for “vineyards” – offers panoramic views, and is surrounded by vineyards, grassy pasture and bush-covered hillside perfect for strolls and photo-taking. The facility includes a traditional Chilean-style main house with guest rooms, open-air porch, swimming pool, communal areas, library and workshop space. Enjoy Chilean food, wine and culture on site, as well as accompanied excursions.

Flights to Santiago, Chile, via Lan Chile, have never been more reasonable. Or Air Canada flies there direct.

For more photos, click
Los Parronales Writers’ Retreat (If this doesn't work, see subsequent post.)

Detailed information available from your host
Susan Siddeley:
Email:; Tel: (1) 416-968-0769


Editor and writer ALLYSON LATTA has worked with many of Canada’s most respected authors and edited numerous award-winning books of fiction and creative non-fiction. For Ryerson University she developed and taught one of the first interactive online memoir writing courses, which served as a model for others as far away as Australia. Beginning Fall 2009 she’ll teach life writing for the University of Toronto. She also leads workshops through her own company. After earning degrees in criminology and journalism from Carleton University, and completing the Economics for Journalists Program at the University of Western Ontario, Allyson worked as newspaper reporter, associate editor for Quarry literary journal, associate editor and features writer for Ottawa Magazine and Ottawa Business Magazine, and for three years taught English in Japan. She has published short memoirs and short fiction, and writes about current affairs for a national publication for secondary school teachers. Allyson is a judge for U of T Magazine’s 2009 short fiction contest, as well as a consultant for the annual Words Alive Literary Festival, held in Sharon, Ontario. She lives in the Toronto area.

SUSAN SIDDELEY, the co-ordinator of Los Parronales Writers’ Retreat, was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire and has recently returned to Toronto, Canada, after spending many years in Andean South America. She has published three collections of poetry, When in Chile, Still in Chile, and On Line, and is a two-time winner in Grain magazine’s “Short Grain” contest.