The members of the Brussels Writers’ Circle are a varied bunch. Prose writers, poets, playwrights, memoirists, screenwriters, we sweep in from all different occupations and locations twice a week to share our work with one another.
In ‘Meet the Circle’, we introduce you to some of our members, hopefully providing an insight into who we are, what we do and what we think about the social life of tardigrades. Well, maybe not that last bit.
This week we will hear from Cynthia Huijgens, co-chair of our Tuesday evening sessions. Cynthia earned a BA and MEd in Art Education, and spend many years working in museum education writing guides and school curriculum to enhance visitor experiences and introduce viewers to artists and the creative processes that inspired them. Today, somewhere between the screaming sirens of Brussels and the muffled silence of falling snow in the mountains of British Columbia where she spends a few months each year, Cynthia finds subjects for her writing which is almost exclusively fiction.
“Dream up big, hairy, audacious goals that you are passionate about and pursue them relentlessly. You have to begin with the end goal in mind, knowing that a goal is a dream with a deadline.” Clay Clark
When did you join the group?
I first attended a Thursday evening session back in October 2016 and loved it. The following week I attended a Tuesday session, and I’ve been a Tuesday regular ever since.
What was your first impression of the group?
Spirited. Fun. Diverse. At the time I joined, I was a new student of The Writer’s Studio Online, a program of Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. Through the program I had a virtual writer’s circle, but I was hungry for contact with local writers. BWC provided that.
What have you published so far?
An article for a fitness magazine in Egypt, an excerpt of my first manuscript, for upper middle grade readers, in an annual anthology of SFU. In October 2018, a short story will appear in the BWC second anthology, Circle 2.
What are you currently working on?
A work of creative nonfiction about my grandmother and things she left behind. I’m also working on a thriller for adults and several short stories, in addition to a sequel to my first MG manuscript. Whew! I’m trying to approach writing not as a hobby, but as a business. I want to get really good at writing and make money from it, so I am now giving myself multiple projects, deadlines, timelines, and real commitment. I’m dedicating resources too, and, if all goes according to plan, by the end of this year I will have extended my publication list of credits!
Who are your biggest literary influences?
I’m going to go with a contemporary influence: Canadian writer Eileen Cook. Not only because she’s found a way to craft really fun stories for young adults ( I think she has eight or nine novels to her credit), but she’s very generous with her time in helping me and other emerging writers to grow our craft and realise our potential.
I think its important to have different role models, but I’ve never been comfortable trying to follow in the footsteps of some 19th century literary master. I want to be inspired by real writers who are living in my times, dealing with issues I can relate to, enjoying success that I can see is possible for myself.
That said, craft books have greatly influenced me. Among my go-tos: Startle and Illuminate, Carol Shields on Writing, Edited by Anne and Nicholas Giardini; On Writing, Stephen King; On Becoming a Novelist, John Gardner; and Writing Tools, Roy Peter Clark.
What do you get out of the group?
Good advice, support, and a sense of community. If I’m not there on Tuesday evening, I miss it.
You can read more about Cynthia at CCHuijgens.com