The Speech

I have to give a speech tonight.

Well not really a speech, just some opening remarks at an event at the SFU Centre for Scottish Studies.

The nerves are setting in. Public speaking is tough.

The task seems even more daunting because this past Sunday I heard a truly masterful speech by Terry Fallis. When you’ve heard the best you can appreciate your shortcomings.

Terry gave the closing keynote speech at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. It’s the 5th year I’ve attended and this one set a new high.

During the conference I had the opportunity to chat with Terry a few times. The conference is famous for giving attendees complete access to all the presenters, writers, agents and publishers. Sharing a meal with Anne Perry or a whisky with Jack Whyte is commonplace.

Terry was kind and approachable. We found out he’s a huge Blue Jays fan who takes a loss very well indeed. Terry is funny but I guess you’d know that if you’ve read any of his books. He is very funny.terry for blog

But I had no idea his power until he stepped up to the podium on Sunday.

He told us the story of how his first book, “The Best Laid Plans” got published and won the Stephen Leacock Award For Humour.

2015-10-28 13.03.32

Self-effacing, lyrical, poignant, exquisite pacing. A master at work.

Our laughter would die down and Terry would move to the next part of the story and have the crowd in gales again. It was exhausting. And hilarious.

Then he hit us.

Terry asked us to grab our lanyards and remove the name card. No, he didn’t ask… Terry told us what to do. He yelled. There was no option but to follow his instructions.

Then his tone softened and he said to add “writer” underneath our name. Because that’s what we were… writers.

I grabbed my pen and added the word. I couldn’t look up because I was crying. The room went silent as everyone claimed their identity.

2015-10-28 13.15.04

Terry made us believe.

The standing ovation went long.

 

2015-10-28 13.19.02

 

 

  • Nice piece, Tricia. Found the link on Twitter and dropped by to see what you’d said. But wasn’t it a GREAT conference?

    Jack

    • Thanks Jack. I think it is the BEST conference! Of course YOU are one of the reasons!

    • Tricia, I hope that you were able to draw upon the inspiration for your own speach. Did it go well? I always take much more away from the #SIWC15 than I feel I’ve given. See you next year.

      • Rachel… we can already look forward to what might happen for #SiWC16. (The speech was fine, and I’m happy that it’s now behind me)

  • Lin

    What a great and inspiring speech!
    I hope your remarks went well, Tricia. As I write this, it still may be ahead of you. You go, girl! 🙂

    • Thanks Lin… I survived!

  • Beautiful post Tricia!
    I was SO taken with Terry’s speech, too, that I [along with everyone] pulled out my nametag at the end. I looked down and it already said ‘writer’ on it… and I nearly burst into tears. It was quite a moment.

    Lovely man, Terry.

    I am so happy to share these moments with you, too! So glad you were there.

    ~kc

    • kc… the gift you (and all the team) give the people that attend SiWC is astounding… even the non-writers that read my blog have been moved by Terry’s words. Thank you.

  • Thanks for your very kind words, Tricia. I found the whole weekend, including our blue pencil session, inspiring. Please keep writing…

    • Thank you Terry. For everything.