Holden inspires writers

Local short story writer Garth Holden guides writers through the process

Two years ago, there were no writers groups on the North Island. Now, thanks to the support of the Port Hardy

Public Library, there’s one group that is currently thriving, the North Island Writers’ Society. The society

originally spawned from a six-week Introduction to Short Stories workshop, offered by the library.  Garth

Holden, an award-winning North Island short story writer with 20 years’ of experience writing fiction and

narrative prose, currently teaches the Short Stories workshop, which runs from Feb. 6 to March 12 at the Port

Hardy Public Library. The author is planning to teach more classes on the subject in Port McNeill and Sointula

as well.”The art and craft of telling stories is what captivates me. We have been offering the Introduction to

Short Stories workshop at the library because it is an accessible length (300 – 7,000 words typically) for

beginning writers and a great length for seasoned writers to hone new skills in,” said Holden. “It is rewarding to

see folks trying new ideas on for size and I try to create a safe atmosphere where budding writers can play with

words and storytelling. I have been amazed at the variety and quality of stories people have been creating in

our workshops.” When asked why he decided to become a writer, Holden replied that back in 1996/1997, he

thought that “writing some stories would be an inexpensive way to entertain myself. So, I outlined what I

thought would be a short story and when the outline hit 5,000 words I admitted that I was working on a

novel.” Holden started that first story with the understanding that it didn’t have to be the best story ever written,

“it had to be the best version of the story that I could write at that time. Fourteen weeks later I had finished a

shaky, saggy, lopsided first draft of a novel.” Finishing the work “was one of the greatest accomplishments of

my life. It took me a few years to learn the plotting, story craft and editing skills necessary to turn that first draft

into a readable story, but it was well worth the effort.”Holden’s advice for anyone who wants to start writing is

simple. “If you want to write, start putting words on paper or a computer screen or your iPhone, and join a

group like the North Island Writers’ Society,” said Holden. “Take a class or go to a workshop. Find some other

writers to critique the work you are producing. Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are and find

ways to address and improve both,” he said. “Learn how to submit material to magazines, web-sites, contests

and papers, then get your writing in the mail. But, first and foremost, entertain yourself. Writing is hard work, if it

doesn’t engage, entertain and inspire you, it is just a chore.”