Local storytellers will be able to draw on Calgary author C.B. Forrest’s wealth of knowledge throughout November during his tenure as Airdrie Public Library’s (APL) first Writer in Residence.
“At the library, we’re obviously big fans of writing and reading and being creative and learning throughout your entire life,” said Eric Pottie, programming and customer engagement manager with APL. “We thought a Writer in Residence position was a great opportunity to weld all of those things together into one great program.”
According to Pottie, the inaugural Writer in Residence program will provide local writers of all levels with one-on-one consultations with a professional author.
“That could be [someone] just starting out as an amateur, it could be someone who’s publishing blogs, someone who’s writing books,” Pottie said. “If you’re a writer or you’re interested in getting into writing, we’ll do these one-on-one, hour-long sessions.”
Plans for the Writer in Residence program were in the works as early as late 2019, Pottie said. Initially, the pandemic threatened the program, but APL’s board pushed to establish it and feels it can be offered safely.
“We figured out a way that we think it can work in a new world,” Pottie said.
Forrest’s tenure will run for the entirety of November. Besides the consultations, he’ll also conduct a reading and offer interactive sessions on writing topics.
“I really look forward to helping anyone who is interested in writing in the community, at any level, sharing all the lessons I’ve learned the hard way,” he said.
Forrest said he’s been a writer in one shape or another for his entire career. After a start in journalism, he’s published four novels including The Weight of Stones, Slow Recoil, The Devil’s Dust, and The Go Ahead. According to an APL press release, he has been shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award, the Shamus Award, the Premier’s Award and has been called “deeply memorable” by Publisher’s Weekly.
“In my writing career, I’ve been able to work on non-fiction, journalism, fiction and a little bit of poetry and a play,” he said.
Forrest said he’ll review any type of writing – fiction, non-fiction, essays, poetry and anything else. During his month at APL, Forrest said he’d focus on positivity while trying to give local writers the right tools, supports and mindset to see projects through to completion.
Writers can book an hour-long consultation on Thursdays throughout the month, and then send material to Forrest. He’ll review the material, and then sit with the writer to give feedback and advice.
“When we meet, it will really be focused on digging into...their overall objective,” he said.
According to Pottie, submissions should be around 20 pages, so that they are manageable for Forrest to read and review.
Pottie noted the meetings will be in-person at the library by default, but anyone not comfortable with that can request the consultation take place virtually. Pottie noted masks are currently mandatory at the library and will need to be worn during the consultations.
Forrest will hold a reading, as well as three sessions on topics he thinks will help writers, each scheduled for a Monday evening. The sessions will focus on the tools needed to start and finish a writing project, how to deal with rejection and the business side of writing.
“I’m putting these together in a format that will be casual and interactive,” he said. “I want people to be asking questions and participating throughout.”
The reading and the sessions will take place on Zoom. Pottie said people can register at airdriepubliclibrary.ca and a link to the event will be emailed 48 hours in advance.
Forrest praised APL’s programming as “progressive and visionary.”
“When I met with them, I was completely sold on the idea of the Writer in Residence based on their passion and support for the community,” he said.