Poet Tom Wayman Introduces Writers to The Importance of the Local
Tom Wayman, a poet from Vernon, BC, is an author that is often invited to the Festival of Words as an audience favourite. He was part of the opening day of this summer’s festival, providing a three-hour workshop for other writers on the topic of ‘Place-Based Writing’. Wayman never disappoints.
He began with a selection of prose, poetry, and songs that use place as a significant marker - like the James Taylor song ‘Copperline’. Wayman notes “There always has to be a story, but Einstein showed us how space and time are linked. We remember our childhoods, and we carry threads of memory all throughout our lives.” Wayman then gave a definition of ‘plot’ as “a response to a social disorder” and encouraged the session attendees to work with it. “We all want to live where there are things that we can count on, both in family and in society. Great literature attempts to understand disorder.” The workshop then allowed time for writing. “Imagine you are producing a film. You are the set designer, and everything you choose tells the time period, the mood, and might even show where the conflict is. Understand the microsense of the space, and constantly check in with yourself as to how you are feeling about the space you are creating.”
Workshop attendees then tried their hand at producing a setting, in words, that conveyed narrative information. Then they added in some emotional information, whether the emotional state of the character or the mood of the piece. “You could even identify something as seen by each of two characters experiencing different (or opposing) emotional states. Describe a chance encounter - perhaps on a street in Moose Jaw.”
The final steps were to craft a character who represented the local. “What does this character most desire? What motivates their actions? What are the obstacles they face? Wrap that in a location that drives the social disorder of the narrative.” Now to go home and write that novel.
Tom Wayman, a BC author and poet, shared the ‘Importance of the Local’.