Anyone who has ever put pen to paper knows it can be a daunting experience. To stare at a blank page waiting for the strike of inspiration.
When something is finally put down on paper, is it something others might want to read? What works? What can be done differently?
Brave New Words is a forum for writers to showcase their work in progress. In its ninth year, it continues to offer a safe haven for wordsmiths – both professional and aspiring.
Susanne Hingley has been running Brave New Words for the last four years. She says it’s an outlet for people who are working on pieces, or have existing pieces, and want to share it with people.
“It’s not a forum for feedback or creation in the room,” Hingley says. “It’s an opportunity to showcase what you already created. “I think that it helps give a writer confidence to write more, to continue with the piece they are working on, and to get braver about sharing other pieces. I think that’s the ultimate goal. That people not only write for themselves, but eventually will share it on a larger scale.”
Sharing one’s work with an audience is often nerve-wracking at best. It is this process that Brave New Words hopes to make friendlier for the writer. “When people get up for the first time ever, they are nervous, it’s hard and you can see the paper shaking,” Hingley says.
After that it gets easier.
“It also instills a bit of confidence in your writing,” she says. “The next thing you know, you’ll see those same people get up more and more, and some often become regulars. It’s their outlet for sharing their work before it gets published.”
Also encouraging is that there is no minimum experience level needed to be welcomed into the fold of Brave New Words.
“If you write words in a diary, or jot down notes or keep a journal, you are a writer,” Hingley says. “The only thing that makes you a writer is that you are writing. It doesn’t mean that you have to be published. Not everybody wants to be published. Some just want to share their writing. They want to bring you into their world.”
When sharing such personal creative work to an audience, there is often an inclination to apologize before one has even begun.
“I’m not good enough. I’m really sorry this sucks. They’ll say that. This sucks. Which is sad, but it happens,” Hingley says.
This is where Brave New Words is instrumental in building confidence in the writer. As participants return to the workshop, they begin to believe more in their talent.
“It’s empowering to be unapologetic about your work. If you have something to share, there are ears out there that will connect with your work.
There is no set style. Everything is welcome,” says Hingley. “We get people reading postcards, memoirs, manuscripts, excerpts, all forms of poetry, you name it. We’ve had people story-tell with no paper in front of them at all. And what is writing, if not storytelling?”
Hingley wears her enthusiasm on her sleeve when she speaks about writing, and about helping others to find their comfort in the world of writing.
“I think the thing I enjoy the most, is being part of a larger community that is becoming more public. Writing is so inherently solitary that it is not unusual for no one to know who writes. We all do it on our own with our doors closed.”
Hingley’s own work has begun to gain traction and attention on a national scale.
“My latest writing project was putting together a pitch for CBC. I pitched a comedy series at the Available Light Film Festival two years ago and it has finally come to fruition in December. I pitched it to the comedy executives at CBC. It’s a comedy series called Not For Profit. If they go ahead, it will be a six episode miniseries for television. It will be about the not-for-profit sector here in the Yukon, and it will be filmed here in the Yukon.”
Brave New Words runs from September to May on the first Tuesday of the month, at 7 p.m. at the Woodcutter’s Blanket, which is located at 112 Strickland St.
The entry fee is by donation.
“If you can’t afford it, show up anyway, and if you can afford it, donated money goes to the showcased performer for the evening.” There is always a musician to start the evening for Brave New Words. “It’s an opportunity to be able to have some small part in providing a space for musicians as well.”
The next workshop takes place Feb. 7. Participants are welcome to simply show up, or they can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the mailing list.