This past weekend I attended the Creative Ink Festival for Writers and Readers in Burnaby.

I was excited to attend this conference because it was the first event I attended as a writer myself.

When I first found it, I was apprehensive, wondering whether or not I belonged. I was still figuring out what my career as a writer is going to look like, after all.

Festival Location - The Grand Villa Casino, Burnaby, BC

After having sat through fourteen fifty-minute sessions, plus one three-hour Master Class, I am confident in saying that I did belong! I met so many awesome writers. Just being in the same room as so many like-minded people was inspiring.

The best advice I received over the weekend came from keynote speaker and author Jonas Saul, who encouraged everyone to write. He inspired us to not to lose focus and continue to do what we love. His advice resonated with me because deep down, I don’t have a desire to write best-selling books and become an award-winning author. Those perks would be nice, of course. But my desire to write comes from somewhere else.

It’s the stories themselves. They want to be written.

The story of how I came to write was simple. I just had a story that wanted to get out. My story, based on my life this far. Sure, I’m young. I had that pointed out to me several times over the course of the weekend.

But why would you question anyone that has a story to tell?

It’s your story, afterall.

When I came home from the Festival on Sunday night, Brad told me that I didn’t seem as excited as I had the previous days. After I took the time to recognize where my subdued feelings were coming from, I realized that I was overwhelmed. In a good way, I promise!

I was one day away from submitting the final manuscript of my memoir to the printers. There was no going back.

All of the tips I had received at the Festival, what words not to use, what things not to say, didn’t matter. It was too late.

I retained the services of an editor for my memoir, whom I really enjoyed working with. But, still. Here, I had all of these successful, published authors and well-read humans, encouraging me to do things with my writing that I haven’t done in my book that was about to be published.

I think it was normal that I felt a little bit of regret.

Brad and I talked about it. If I really wanted to, I could have put a halt on the printing. It would have cost more money and a lot more time. We would have missed my projected May 15 launch date, but I could have taken it all back, if I wanted to.

I considered it. But then I decided to trust in my editor, myself and the team of test-readers that I had asked to read my book before we publish and move forward with the printing.

My book isn’t going to be the best thing my readers have ever read.

But it is mine.

And I am going to take what I learned from the Creative Ink Festival for Writers and Readers and put it into practice when writing my next book. And the one after that, and the one after that…

There’s no stopping me now,

Anya

Keynote Speech by Jonas Saul.

Display of Books at the Festival's Market.

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