We never would have predicted the beauty and diversity we would encounter on our last visit to this beautiful country, Canada! Our prior travels have brought us here before, but somehow this trip felt different. This visit was a welcomed escape from our usual Southern California heat. We enjoyed the ability to experience Vancouver’s physical change in seasons, while also being greeted by fresh mountain air and the splendor of the colorful landscape. From the breathtaking hues of red, yellow, and gold found in the autumn trees to the mountains that made their presence known on clearer days, we each immediately felt serenity being in this magnificent country.
It was easy to adjust to our new setting, especially when we found ourselves surrounded by the warm and friendly locals who offered their insight on their beloved city of Yaletown. It is no wonder that this location is considered one of the trendiest spots in the Vancouver area. It offered us, as new visitors, everything we could have hoped. There was so much gratification to be found sitting in the stylish cafes, having our choice of eateries, and exploring the beautiful local boutiques. We discovered the perfect starting point to our Canadian adventure.
Walking the historic brick walkways of this vibrant neighborhood was such a unique experience. Yet, it was the crisp air, walks along the marina, and stepping in symbolic puddles – nostalgic reminders of our favorite book series – that were truly priceless. After all, we were here on the eve of Outlander‘s most anticipated release of the Matthew B. Roberts’ episode, A. Malcolm. If you are an avid reader of Diana Gabaldon, you may find that her writing encourages fans to unconsciously search for greater meanings in her narratives, even in the most minimalistic of objects. In our eyes, the puddle was more than just a natural collection of water that solely held the faces of our own reflection. Rather, in the greater depths of our own imagination, stepping in these puddles led us to feel as though we could fall through space and time to follow the journeys of cherished literary characters. These simple acts made the year 1766 feel as though it was no longer that far away.
That is the true joy we find in reading Diana Gabaldon’s writings – the eccentric expanse of our own collective imaginations. We are no longer just wives, mothers, colleagues, or caretakers. We can visualize a possibility separate from our present reality to momentarily be someone else. It was in the rediscovery of our adventurous spirit that initially brought us together. Now, here we are, following opportunities to explore our own passions. Writing just happens to be one of them.
Our families have always told us to not be afraid of looking outside of our comfort zones to follow our own innovative ambitions. We have learned that putting this into action takes a great amount of courage and conviction. Our first step brought us Timeless Sass3nach Journeys, but visiting the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SiWC) gave us the opportunity to dare to broaden our own path. We took the chance to step out into public to share our writing, learn by hearing others’ experiences, and explore our dreams in an encouraging setting. Reflecting back, it’s surprising how our initial hesitations and insecurities quickly disappeared, and we immediately felt comfortable being a temporary member of this supportive community. We realized that this is one of the greatest gifts SiWC can give to you.
Attending the SiWC has always been a dream of ours, as it is one of the most well-known conferences held every year for aspiring and established writers alike. We couldn’t help but to feel the magnetic energy as we entered the venue. The foyer of the lobby was filled with themed posters, key words of encouragement to participants (#thisdaywewrite), and positive affirmations for the future. We were astonished by the personable nature of each volunteer and staff member who took the time to answer any questions we may have had. We were happy and jubilant by the growing ease of exchanges we had with other participants. As aspiring writers, we felt encouraged by the conversations we shared and the new networks we had begun to establish – widening the door of possibilities to expand upon our own aspirations. Filled with hope, ambition, and a growing sense of purpose, we looked at each other and in unison had the same musing thought, “Je Suis Prest.” We are ready!
We were ready to learn and to find inspiration. SiWC fosters these concepts by building a community atmosphere, allowing participants the ability to meet and learn from so many others who share the same passion for writing and storytelling. There is no other place where we could have felt closer to the many talented individuals we have admired from afar, including established authors, passionate writers, and even educators within the field.
With our itinerary in place, we set out to explore the vendors and information booths that were found throughout the venue. Conversations were surprisingly easy, but then why wouldn’t it be?! Our initial hesitations based from being new writers were quickly replaced – everyone shared the same sheer joy of writing as we do, serving as the perfect platform to build conversations! We laughed and exchanged business cards with many, but soon we found it was time to begin preparing for the autograph session with Diana Gabaldon. Lining up nearly 2 hours in advance, we took turns holding our place in queue to allow each of us the opportunity to explore the other authors in attendance. We reveled seeing KC Dyer of Finding Fraser and other novelists we admire, such as Jack Whyte who writes stories centered upon Arthurian legends and Susanna Kearsley who wrote The Winter Sea. We have a strong affiliation for historical fiction, yet our eyes were gladly widened by other genres as well, such as Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Thrillers. It was a powerful experience to be among such diverse talent, while also being able to have personable interactions with each author. We loved every moment!!
As 5:30 p.m. inched closer, we quickly re-found our place in line with other Outlander fans. There is one thing to be said about this fandom: no matter where you are from, you can always have an engaging conversation with people you have never met before. We are each powered by the belief in the captivating journeys that the books portray and the profound emotional roller coaster ride the television series takes their viewers. We were thrilled to see familiar faces and enjoyed making new friends. There was honestly no other place we would rather be! The time waiting flew by and soon enough it was our time to greet Diana Gabaldon. This was our fifth opportunity meeting her at a book signing, yet our nerves and heightened admiration for her work made us feel as though it was our first visit. She was kind, engaging, and patient with all her fans as we each feel so inspired when in her presence – she truly is the catalyst of the Outlander fandom! We had a variety of items signed, such as a copy of the screenplay of Episode One of Season 1, our beloved books, and artistic interpretations of the pivotal Print Shop episode.
Our hearts were filled with joy knowing that we have accomplished so much within one day, but the day was not over! Our friends at Outlandish Vancouver had organized a series of events that coordinated perfectly with our attendance at SiWC, giving us the opportunity of a lifetime to also meet one of our favorite actors and Gaelic instructors of the Outlander series.
We took our leave and said goodbye to our many new friends. It was time to head over to the Outlandish Vancouver event to meet David Berry and Adhamh O Broin. “This will be a once in a lifetime experience,” we kept telling ourselves as we counted down the time until their arrival. We ran on adrenaline, thankfully, as we had little sleep leading up to these events. Our very own Sass3 member, Mela, will soon capture our experience in an upcoming blog. The natural camaraderie shared between all of those who attended this special event made the conversations more lively, engaging, and, of course, filled the room with countless moments of fun and laughter. It was priceless!
All Good Times Must Come To An End
It was the company of each other, as we traveled from southern California to Canada, that made visiting this special place completely unforgettable. On our plane ride home, we laughed as we reminisced over our well-loved stories of the weekend and marveled in our achievements to not only meet those we held in high esteem, but to also share pieces of ourselves as well. SiWC gave us the space and confidence to do so, leading us straight back into our planning mode to prep our families for our formal attendance the next year. Thank you SiWC! In the end, we learned that there was no greater reward than friendship and having the courage to follow our own ambitions.
See you next year!
-Mela, Jae, & Our Dear Friend Susie
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