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Conference finale

A quick word – I know this is Sunday, and it’s still June, but otherwise I’m lost in a fog of conference. At the moment, though, in a UBC dorm living room looking out at mountains and ocean, a glorious view not much blocked by the building in front. My two roomies have departed already, as the main bulk of the conference is over, but I’m staying for the AGM this morning and the Shoe Project this afternoon – immigrant women who tell the story of their lives through their shoes. Then to Judy’s for a debrief with the gang over dinner and a final night in Vancouver, home tmw.

We have been blessed in many ways – with, first, the most perfect weather imaginable, mild and sunny every day. This campus, surely the most beautiful in the world, and this building, where most of us lived and where our conference meeting rooms and meals were on the main floor. The attendees, a group of lively, intense nonfiction writers from across the country. The panelists and speakers, writers at the top of their game, sharing their knowledge and wisdom with us. More on that anon.

And some extras, including, last night, Sea Sick, a play by and starring Alanna Mitchell based on her book of the same name. A one-woman show of extraordinary impact, about her research into the devastation of the world’s oceans, and eventually of the world, by fossil fuels. She manages to inject humour into the show, which is riveting, and to leave us with a message of hope, even as we acknowledge, with her, that the problem is much worse than we realize. The glass of wine afterwards was more than welcome, it was necessary.

Noon. Just back from the AGM and about to check out. I am now officially a board member of the CNFC. I love this organization and its people, so – here we go. I’m also on the conference committee for next year, and we’ve started already taking suggestions and making plans. New responsibilities, but also, great new writer friends.

Yesterday I met two of Canada’s most interesting women – the Globe arts writer Marsha Lederman, who, when she interviewed me about Wayson, I told about the conference and who came out to UBC yesterday to interview Alanna and see the show; and Elizabeth Hay, acclaimed writer. Not to mention all the others. I’m stimulated and moved and only a little daunted by the work that’s ahead.

But right now – out into the sunshine. Yesterday, I cut class – er, workshops – in the morning to walk to the Nitobe Garden here, a classic Japanese garden which in all my years in Vancouver I’d never visited. I needed time alone in green, and there it was, stunningly beautiful and quiet, no writers talking. We in Toronto may be the champions, but we have nothing like this.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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