A Community of one’s own 

Whistler Writers Festival keeps the creative juices flowing

By Shelley Arnusch

What: Third Whistler Writers Festival

Where: Various locations in Whistler

When: Nov. 3—14

Writing is a solitary game.

This statement has one exception – a Simpsons-suggested scenario of a roomful of monkeys with typewriters, hitting random keys in the chance that the world’s greatest novel will arise out of the chaos.

But on second thought, even if the monkeys work side by side, enjoying each other’s company there’s still going to have to be one human handler standing guard, checking their grammar.


In the end, even with a barrel of monkeys, solitary to the core.

The writing process, however, can be an inspiring collaborative effort, full of readings and discussion and experimentation and constructive criticism. Even though it’s the writer and the writer only tapping on the keys at the end of the day, a writers group can help melt the icy feelings of solitude amplified by such impersonal professional standards as the rejection letter.

In Whistler, a lot of ice has been melted by a thriving organization known ironically and affectionately as "the Vicious Circle" and officially as the Whistler Writers Group.

Now three years strong, the group was the initiative of a certain Stella Harvey, who had relegated management consulting to "night job" status in order to give writing her all.

But she needed more feedback than publishing house form letters were willing to give. She needed faces, names, personalities. A community to support her craft and allow her to support others.

An ad in the local paper brought like-minded scribes out of the woodwork. From Squamish to Mount Currie and beyond, they continue to meet on a regular basis.

The formation of the group was just the beginning.

As many years as there has been a Writers Group there has been a Whistler Writers Festival. A community outreach offering entertainment for readers and professional development for writers.

In the beginning it was small. One and a half days with some of the events held at Harvey’s home.

Now three years old, the festival has expanded considerably. Kicking off on Wednesday, Nov. 3, this year’s fest continues over the next 10 days, with events ranging from free public readings to registered masters workshops requiring work samples submitted in advance.

Despite the growth, Harvey remains firmly committed to her original principles for the group: inclusion, collaboration, and creative inspiration.

"I’m a big believer in grassroots, that you can make something happen if you want to make something happen," she stated.


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