Saturday, December 3, 2011

Congrats, Marie Powell: Short Manuscript Awards

Congrats to Regina writer Marie Powell — another University of B.C. MFA grad! — for her success in Saskatchewan's recent Short Manuscript Awards. Marie took first place in three categories: Poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

These Saskatchewan Writers' Guild awards recognize literary excellence in works of creative writing by Saskatchewan writers who have not yet published a book in the categories in which they have entered. (That is definitely one of the most complex sentences I plan to cut and paste into being this morning!) 

Marie Powell - photo by Shelley Banks
Thanks for a great reading, too, Marie! 

Marie's awards were presented at the SWG's fall conference and annual general meeting. Marie read from her story, "Angelwing" (which I hope will be published very soon in a lit mag, so I can read the rest of it), and we set up this blog interview.

Congrats, Marie, on winning in three categories. Many writers work in one genre, or perhaps two, at a time. How did you happen to be exploring three? 
These days we’re told to specialize as writers, so I guess that seems odd. But I’ve been writing fiction and poetry most of my life, as well as working as a journalist. I found my niche in the University of British Columbia’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in Creative Writing. To be accepted into the program, I had to submit quality writing in at least three genres. During my MFA, I took classes in five different genres: fiction, children’s writing, poetry, creative nonfiction, and screenwriting. It was intense, challenging, and really helped me develop as a writer. The three pieces that won this contest are UBC-influenced: “Angelwing” was developed in Brian Brett’s fiction class; “Urban Glances” was created and developed in Karen Solie’s poetry class; and “One Week in Wales” was created and developed in a directed studies class in literary nonfiction with Wayne Grady.
What are you working on now? 
I enjoy writing short stories, and just finished another one. I have two stories published and several more to send out now, so I hope I can put together a book of short stories soon. I’ve just finished a medieval fantasy novel for Young Adult readers, called “Hawk.” I completed a draft of it as my MFA thesis project, and worked on revisions at Highlights Chautauqua (an international children’s writers conference) this summer. It’s the first of a series, and last month I started working on the second book. I’ve also joined two writing groups: The Phantasts for fantasy/SF, and YAC (Young Adult Critique group) for young adult fantasy/SF. For those, I’m working on another medieval fantasy for adults, based in the same time period as “Hawk;” and a time-travel historical-twist young adult novel. I have outlined another two novels and at least one more short story, but I have to make more time to begin writing them. In literary nonfiction, I’ve just sent a short essay out to a publisher, I have two finished and ready to send (as soon as I have time to find a market), and I have a book-length manuscript finished in first-draft form. As well, I’m always working on poetry, revising poems and writing new ones for my poetry-writing group, the Erratics. I’ve just sent out another contest submission too — wish me luck!
Of course good luck! 

I'm also impressed by all the work you're immersed in right now, too. What advice do you have for beginning or emerging writers?
My best advice is pretty basic: read and write, and do both every day. For me, creative writing is a long-term commitment. For instance, I began “Angelwing” back in the 1990s as a play script, and it’s been written and revised several times before its present form. Now it’s doing well, so I feel as if it’s finished, but I have to admit it felt like that every time I completed a draft —  until I had feedback or wrote morning pages that led me to a new way of telling it, and began changing it again. I write three pages of long-hand “Morning Page” style journaling every day — that's a process suggested by Julia Cameron in books like The Artist's Way — and I use colored tabs to keep track of the ideas. So I could say: Go long. Be persistent. Join a writing group, take classes, and make it a goal to write every day. Don’t be afraid to try something new, or to revise something one more time. Follow your instincts —  or rather, write your instincts. Trust the process and anything can happen.
Thanks for this, Marie — and all the best. 



  1. Yes, congrats to Marie. (And you are pretty inspiring, too, Cassidy, with your many readings.)


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