• Writing Prompts: The Snowflake Method

    Portal magazine is currently accepting submissions for both our national non-fiction writing contest called Portent ($500 prize, $25 entry fee, deadline November 1st) and our annual issue out in April (fiction/non-fiction/poetry/script, VIU students only, no submission fee, deadline November 30th, ). We’re looking for entries of up to 2000 words in both categories. This may seem a bit intimidating, especially if you haven’t submitted to a magazine or contest before, so here’s one approach you might use to get the creative juices flowing. The Snowflake Method was invented by Randy Ingermanson to inspire novelists, but a lot of his points are apt for other genres. Don’t worry – even if…

  • Stress and Creativity

    “Imagination is tapping into the subconscious in a form of open play. That is why art or music therapy, which encourages a person to take up brushes and paint or an instrument, and just express themselves, is so powerful.”― Phil ‘Philosofree’ Cheney With the end of the semester upon us, stress is at an all-time high. At this point in the year, it is nice to use creativity as an escape – after all, art is a form of therapy. It expands the mind and explores self-expression. It improves self-esteem, increases awareness, induces positivity, and maintains good mental health. When you create something, you push your boundaries. You also express emotion,…

  • You Owe it to Yourself to Write

    Are you a writer? Perhaps you are not published in literary magazines or negotiating a book deal, but if an hour spent creating a literary work (however infrequently this may occur) is one of the most rewarding hours of your week, then you owe it to yourself to write. Though you may be busy with classes, or a suffocating work schedule, dependents, significant others, needy friends, or daily chores, that is no excuse. According to Karl Ove Knausgaard—author of 6 books in 3 years—being busy is the ideal condition for writers. In a recent interview with Joshua Rothman of The New Yorker, Knausgaard observed “It’s strange that, with three small children and…

  • Portal’s November in Photos

    November has been abundant with events: 2 Gustafson Distinguished Poet events with internationally-acclaimed poet Lorna Crozier, a beer ’n burger fundraiser, Portfolio reading featuring Writer’s Trust award-winner Kathy Page, and the announcement of our Portent Non-fiction Contest winner! On November 7th, Lorna Crozier, the Ralph Gustafson Distinguished Poet of 2018, did a free reading at White Sails Brew Pub, sharing the stage with Portal contributor Aislinn Cottell, who read from her own selection. The event was a resounding success, drawing a sizable and diverse audience. Crozier’s lecture “Writing & Risk” included her bold and daring approach to writing. Crozier’s lecture will be the next instalment in the Gustafson Distinguished Poet…

  • Seeking a Literary Community

    As writers, we spend long nights in dark rooms with glaring desktop screens and stalled fingertips. As readers, our eyes crust over long before we’re ready to put the book down and sleep – even then, the stories follow us into dreamland. So many of us spend our time in isolation thinking – romantically, incorrectly – that this is how all the Greats write. Introversion has its perks, sure, but there’s a bigger world out there if you discard your recluse attire (fuzzy socks, baggy T-shirts) and socialize again. The possibility that my words will be read is the encouragement I need to get out among a literary community: workshops;…

  • Writing and Risk: Looking Ahead at the 2018 Gustafson Lecture

    Next week on November 7th and 8th, VIU will welcome award-winning poet Lorna Crozier to campus as the 2018 Ralph Gustafson Distinguished Poet. She’ll be presenting a lecture and reading/Q&A for students, as well as a public reading at White Sails Brewery. In her lecture, she’ll be talking about writing and the risks we take whenever we put pen to paper. Whether it’s a poem, a piece of short fiction, or even a film script, there’s no doubt that it takes serious guts to allow readers – strangers – to be an audience for our deepest thoughts and emotions. We’re opening the window to judgement. For some it’ll resonate, and…