‘Write the best story that’s in you’

Writer-in-residence Tim Wynne-Jones enlightens students on the business of writing

Tim Wynne-Jones says he continues writing, despite pressures and lack of motivation, for the love of the art.
Tim Wynne-Jones says he continues writing, despite pressures and lack of motivation, for the love of the art.

You do it for the love of it.

Or at least that’s what current writer-in-residence, Tim Wynne-Jones, says to aspiring writers at Queen’s.

For one term each year, the department of English welcomes a writer who participates in various literary events and offers mentorship to students involved in creative writing.

Tim Wynne-Jones is an Officer of the Order of Canada and two-time winner of the Governor General’s Award. He’s written children’s fiction, general literary fiction and is internationally recognized as one of the leading contemporary writers of complex young adult fiction.

The program, Wynne-Jones said, gives opportunities to student writers they may not have had access to otherwise.

“I’ve already seen seven or eight people who are writing quite well,” he said. “It’s very hard to know what to do if you’re writing … so it’s nice if there’s an opportunity to talk to someone who’s been in the business a long time.”

As a mentor, Wynne-Jones reads excerpts, offers constructive feedback and is a link between the art and the business of writing.

In terms of making it as an author, Wynne-Jones, whose past students have published their own work, had some thoughtful advice.

“Don’t follow trends,” he said. “Write the best story that’s in you – the story that you want to write, [that] has a far better chance of catching the eye of an editor.”

With his most recent book, Blink & Caution, out on the book stands, Wynne-Jones has experience in attracting the attention of well-known editors.

The novel was inspired by a street kid in Washington, D.C., he said. Unlike other works of contemporary fiction, the focus is on the story: the way that the lives of Blink and Caution, the aliases of the teenaged street kids, interweave as they both attempt to get a grip on life.

Wynne-Jones has a broad experience as a workshop leader and university lecturer. His prolific writing and thought-provoking novels keep him relevant among young, aspiring writers.

After giving a brief reading from Blink & Caution at his welcome reception last Friday, he stayed to answer audience questions, one of which was about where he finds the ideas, motivation and energy after so many years of writing and published work under his belt.

“You go on writing because of the love of writing,” he said.

Making Stories: Talks on fiction and writing craft> runs for five consecutive Tuesday afternoons beginning Oct. 29 in Watson 517. Students are encouraged to contact Wynne-Jones at: twj@queensu.ca.

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