Aspiring writers can learn from a pro next week, as Saskatchewan novelist and writer Melanie Schnell visits Brandon University and the Brandon Public Library to share her experience and expertise with students, faculty, and all aspiring writers. Schnell will lead two events on February 1 and 2, jointly co-organized by the Brandon Public Library and the BU Department of English and Creative Writing’s Literary Exchange Speaker Series, supported by the Dean of Arts.
On Thursday, February 1, Melanie Schnell will be offering a free 90-minute writing workshop at the Brandon Public Library, from 7–8:30 p.m. Open to anyone and everyone, regardless of writing experience, this workshop will get pens to paper. Schnell will lead participants through a series of writing exercises as a way to develop skill, have fun, and try new writing techniques. The workshop encourages active creativity, and an exploration of different writing approaches. Refreshments will be provided by the Public Library.
Schnell’s February 1 workshop kicks off another “semester” of the Public Library’s Creative Writing Program. This program, facilitated by Programming and Outreach Librarian Danielle Hubbard, began in summer 2017 and is now preparing for its third session. Every two weeks, participants gather at the Public Library to discuss and critique each other’s writing.
“I want to provide a safe, encouraging space for writers to meet and hear each other’s thoughts,” Hubbard said. “It’s very difficult to improve as a writer without receiving feedback on your work.”
Intimidating as the prospect of critical feedback may sound, Hubbard also emphasizes the casual and friendly atmosphere fostered in the program. No previous writing experience is required; past participants have come from all walks of life, and are writers of everything from short stories and poetry to personal essays, plays, and even songs.
On Friday, February 2, Schnell will give a free presentation at Brandon University, entitled “Research and the Journey: Writing the First Novel.” There, she will discuss how the idea for her first novel, While the Sun is Above Us, came to her, and how she stayed tethered to the idea over the next 10 years. That decade included two trips to South Sudan in the midst of their civil war, an MFA degree from UBC, and the birth of her son.
“I hope this will prove insightful not only to students of English literature, or to people who have a story they want to publish, but also to anyone interested in the region of Sudan and the people who live and travel there,” said Deanna Smid, who is co-organizing the Literary Exchange Speaker Series with Dale Lakevold. Schnell’s presentation at Brandon University will take place from 10:40–11:30 a.m. in Clark Hall Room 306.
- Brandon University
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