When you go to a conference, in my case, The Surrey International Writers’ Conference, you never expect to arrive and have to undergo four security checks by RCMP just to get into the hotel, dodge past a couple hundred protesters, as well as having been pre-screened by the Secret Service.
Nothing like a friendly, “Welcome to Canada” arrival with the hotel surrounded by RCMP.
All because former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are speaking at the conference hotel that day for a separate economic meeting. And even with all this security you discover a few days later, one attendee arrived with an ax in a garbage bag and blithely walked into the hotel with it. But that is an entirely different story.
Meanwhile, as I settled in, protesters took over an intersection:
Aside from all the hullabaloo that welcomed me, I have to say this was the best conference, evah. Truly. I had so much fun. Met so many truly interesting and talented writers (Ivan Coyote, Micheal Slade (here-forthwith known as, Man with an Axe), Eileen Cook, Susanna Kearsley, Margaret George (Yes, I got to meet Margaret George!) and Anne Perry, whose opening address was in a word: breathtaking.)
Had a total fangirl moment with Margaret George, where I was gushing over how much I loved the Autobiography of King Henry the VIIth to several other writers, only to discover Margaret George was standing right beside me. I was completely embarrassed and in total awe. I read that book when I was like 20 and was mesmerized by it. I recently reread it and it still, 20 some years later, her writing holds the same power.
The amazing part of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference is the tremendous draw it possesses. Writers of all genres, bloggers, poets, artists, wordsmiths, humorists, you name it, you will find them. And you will find inspiration in their love of words. A deep abiding love of the power of writing. It was like stumbling upon a big family reunion wherein everyone spoke that unique language that whispers to you. As a writer, you spend so much time alone writing you forget that others hear those words as well. But here, the language of storytelling was alive and well.
My advice: If you love writing, go next year for their 20th anniversary conference. And if you go and you meet a wild crew of women from Calgary, hang with those chicks. They are too much fun.
And yes, I did bid on a Mountie. At least I tried to bid on one. But that again, is another story.