Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

A Call to Action – Update #5

“Never settle for a ripple, when you can make a wave.” Janet Louise Stephenson

The Christmas break is over. It was a hectic time with travel and socializing and far too much food and sweets. I’m trying to cut down on the latter, but chocolate and fruitcake are still in the cupboard, and on top of everything else, Santa Claus filled my jellybean dispenser. It sits on the credenza beside my desk like a tease. Mind you I still have to plug it with coins to get at the jellybeans. Unfortunately, this deterrent is a weak one at best, given that my desk drawer is filled with coins. I’m nothing if not a planner with back up plans on top of back up plans.

I hope you all had a nice Christmas break. I wish you the very best in 2017.

Many more donations came in on our fundraising campaign for the Whistler Writers Festival. We have now received some $12,000 in donations on our way to our goal of $30,000. Thank you so much for your generosity and support.

Along with donations, some folks made other fundraising suggestions, or offered prizes for silent auctions and contests or asked questions. I love questions.

By far, the single most asked question was: why do you do it? And by this, I think they were asking why I put on the festival in the first place.

I ask myself this all the time. The work is difficult and all consuming. When I’m not writing submissions for grants, or organizing, planning, and scheduling authors and venues, or signing contracts or approaching corporations for sponsorship or doing interviews, or a number of other this’ and thats, I’m thinking about what has to be done.

When I ask myself why, I only have to recall some of the incredible notes I received in the past from festival participants and writers alike. Here’s just one: Thank you for having me. The organizers did a phenomenal job, and I would come back and recommend the festival to my writing friends and family. As someone who has gone to a lot of these kinds of things, I can say that this one is among the best!

Or I think about the young women who were downright gushy to see author Emma Donohue in person at our festival last year.

Would you like me to introduce you, I asked.

Oh no, they said in hand-over mouth giggles, we’re just happy to be in the same room.

I have many notes from participants who have shared a drink with their favourite author at our festival and wrote to thank me for creating an event that is so intimate it allowed them to do what they didn’t think was possible.

Yes, believe it or not some authors have the following of a rock star.

But some of my best memories of the festival come from our authors in the schools program, an adjunct to the festival. I have so many recollections, it’s difficult to pick just one. But here goes.  

A few years ago a teacher wrote to me to say that one of her students quoted lines from a Katherina Vermette Governor General’s award book of poetry (North End Love Songs) in an assignment a full year after Katherina appeared and presented her book in the student’s class. The festival had (as we have done in the past) purchased class sets of Katherina’s book so the students involved in our authors in the schools program could read and study the book before they met the author. This story and so many others like it buoy me. I like to think we create life-long readers.

This wave of enthusiasm for authors and their written words is in a nutshell (I’m not known for my brevity) ultimately why I do it.

Thanks again to those of you who have already donated to our cause. We have a little further to go before our January 15th cut off so you’ll get one more update from me, then I promise to leave you alone. Really!

Any amount helps. And donations over $25 will receive an electronic tax receipt in the name of the donor. You can donate on our gofundmesite. And if you’d like to watch a very quick video of the 2016 festival, check out this video. Or watch videos of our other programs here.

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