Mini-Workshops & Writing Tips

The Eden Mills Writers' Festival strives to nurture the next generation of writers by supporting aspiring writers through workshops, literary and poetry writing contests, and reading sets for yet-to-be published writers and poets. As part of our "In Your Own Backyard" online series, we are pleased to offer aspiring writers these mini-workshops and writing tips.

Telling Someone Else's Story: How to Build Trust and Maintain Balance
with Dakshana Bascaramurty

Dakshana Bascaramurty is a national news reporter for the Globe and Mail. She won a 2013 National Newspaper Award in beat reporting for her coverage of changing demographics in Toronto's 905 region, and in 2018 a silver medal for Best Arts and Culture Story, at the Digital Publishing Awards for "Kent Monkman: the modern touch of an old master." Before joining the Globe and Mail in 2009, her work appeared in the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen and on CBC.

Her first book, This is Not the End of Me, (Penguin Random House Canada), is the moving, inspiring story of a young husband and father who, when diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of thirty-three, sets out to build a legacy for his infant son.

She joins us on August 13 for the panel discussion "On Being Alive".

Advice for Writers
with John Gould

What are common traps for aspiring writers?
It’s crucial that you let yourself be a beginner. This is easier for an aspiring sax player, I suspect – you know you’re going to make an awful racket for a while, and that the first months and years will be about craft. By the time you aspire to be a writer (in the sense that we mean here), you’ve actually been putting words together for some time, so it’s harder to recognize that you don’t yet have any serious chops.

The upside is that the reward for working on the craft of writing is beyond anything you can anticipate. When I started out – and I think this applies to many new writers – I had the sense that the point of writing was to get the ideas out of my head and onto the page. What a dull practice that would be. Once you start to develop some command, you discover that your engagement with the text takes you far beyond your initial notions. That’s the payoff, and it’s a thrill.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Enjoy this. Angst and self-doubt notwithstanding, this is priceless.

Read our full Q&A with John Gould. He joins us on August 13 for the panel discussion "On Being Alive".

John Gould is the author of two previous collections of very short stories — including Kilter, a finalist for the Giller Prize and a Globe and Mail Best Book — and the novel Seven Good Reasons Not to Be Good. His fiction has been published in periodicals across Canada and abroad, and adapted for film. A teacher, editor and arts administrator, he lives in Victoria, where he served on the editorial board of the Malahat Review and taught creative writing at the University of Victoria. The End of Me, his newest collection of short stories, is published by Freehand Books.

Advice for Writers
with Ray Robertson

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Show, show, show.  Art is essentially experiential.

“No reader who doesn’t actually experience, who isn’t made to feel . . . is going to believe anything the . . . writer merely tells him,” Flannery O’Connor counselled in her seminal book Mystery and Manners.  “The first and most obvious characteristic of [good writing] is that it deals with reality through what can be seen, heard, smelt, tasted, and touched.”

Ray Robertson joins us on August 13 for the panel discussion "On Being Alive".

Ray Robertson is the author of eight novels and three works of non-fiction. His work has been translated into several languages. Born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, he lives in Toronto.

How to Die: A Book About Being Alive, is published by Biblioasis.

Three Things to Consider When Writing Memoir
with Alison Wearing

Alison Wearing is the bestselling author of Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, an Indigo Top 50 pick shortlisted for the Edna Staebler Prize and longlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize, and Honeymoon in Purdah: An Iranian Journey. She teaches, performs solo multimedia plays, and leads writing workshops internationally.

Moments of Glad Grace, a moving and witty memoir of aging, familial love, and the hunt for roots and belonging, was published in April 2020 by ECW Press.

Visit for information about her twelve week online memoir writing class (Memoir Writing, ink.).