Writer Patricia Robertson hosts short story workshop

KFPL presents ‘Sentence by Sentence: the Journey of the Story’

Robertson is a thoughtful writer.
Supplied by Patricia Robertson

Canadian writer Patricia Robertson will host a virtual short story workshop on Nov. 23 through the Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL).

Robertson, 73, was born in British Columbia and currently teaches at the University of Winnipeg’s English department. She’s the author of three books of stories and spent half a year as the KFPL Writer-in-Residence in 2014.

“[The workshop] really parallels how I write,” Robertson said in an interview with The Journal.

 “I don’t plan a story in advance in any way. What triggers a story for me is nearly almost an image of some kind, and that can come from an overheard conservation, a news story.”

In Sentence by Sentence: the Journey of the Story, workshopattendees will begin their 90-minute session with a prompt and see where their ideas take them.

“If I knew how the story was going to end, I don’t think I would write it,” Robertson said.

“The story is a journey of discovery for me—I’m writing for myself first, for me the reader, and hoping that when it’s done, it will speak to some other people as well.”

The workshop will be held over Zoom, as Robertson currently lives in Winnipeg.

When Robertson moved to Kingston for six months for the KFPL residency back in 2014, she’d been living in Whitehorse for two decades. She looks back fondly on her time here.

“I love working one-on-one with writers. It’s my favourite thing,” she said.

“I [act] as kind of a midwife for whatever poems or stories or personal essays for whatever wants to come out.”

This passion is directed towards writers of all ages and skill levels—everyone from teenagers to seniors are welcome to work on their craft by attending Sentence by Sentence.

“You don’t need any writing experience at all,” Robertson said.

“[The workshop] is really intended as a kind of stimulus, as the way writing prompts are. They force you to produce something in a short period of time and be surprised at what you can do when you’re told to keep your butt in the chair and do it.”

Robertson said there will also be an opportunity for those who are comfortable and interested to read aloud what they’ve written at the end of the workshop.

This portion is meant to get people thinking, both about what they’ve heard and about where they might take their stories after their time in Sentence by Sentence.

“I ask [attendees] to look for what stayed with them after the reading, what was striking about the piece, what images emerged, and what might happen next,” she said.

Registration for Sentence by Sentence is now open online at the KFPL website.

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