The Spawning Grounds workshop with Gail changed everything for me. Gail’s support, ideas, and constructive suggestions took a project that had pretty much ground to a halt and gave it new momentum.
Gail creates a safe space in which participants share their writing and offer encouragement and useful feedback to each other. Beside the daily workshop topics, Gail offers a one-on-one session and extensive written notes on every submission. Her critique is perceptive, helpful, encouraging, and bang-on. I had my money’s worth on day one when we discussed how as beginning writers we project our fears of exposure onto our protagonists, resulting in characters who will not risk anything, resulting in—no story!
The Spawning Grounds is such a great name for the workshop. Held in October, it coincides with the great migration of salmon in nearby Adams River. The Sorrento Centre is a lovely spot adjacent to Shuswap Lake. In October the trees are full of crispy apples. The accommodations are comfy and quiet and the centre serves nutritious meals in the cafeteria.
I returned home feeling enriched and ready to begin again.
-- Patsy Alford
Learning with Gail. What a privilege. An excellent teacher, she guides you to discover the gems hidden in your work, and the potential to make it even stronger. She allays your fears and closes down the self-critical voice, creating a safe space for learning. Since I was new to the workshop process, I felt nervous about sharing my work and also providing feedback to others. Gail makes it clear that all writers experience self-doubt. I learned that our unconscious fears show up in our manuscripts, and what to do to avoid allowing them to drive the bus! That was just the first day. Gail’s ability to deconstruct the work and pull the threads together, in diverse pieces including YA and non-fiction, helped all participants understand structure. She provided extensive notes and references on every submission. The time flew by, and my only wish is that we had been there longer. I left energized, excited and inspired by Gail and the other courageous writers in our group. They motivated me to keep writing and growing as an artist. It’s never too late. I benefitted immensely from this experience and would highly recommend it to apprentice writers (to use Gail’s term) or those with more experience.
-- Lise Mayne
In the Spawning Grounds Retreat, Gail created a perfect blend of workshop, discussion with writers and instruction, and interaction face-to face with Gail. During time set aside for us, I was motivated by the morning discussions to be creative and productive in my writing, and even spent part of an afternoon watching salmon swim up river at the spawning grounds. The setting was inspirational and relaxing, and the company encouraging and dynamic. Gail works hard to ensure small details are attended to and feedback and instruction is catered to the requirements of all writers in the retreat. I left inspired, with a long reading list, and renewed enthusiasm for my writing project. I’d love to return next year.
-- Laurel Sproule