Wednesday, September 23, 2009

About a Banff...

One whole week with writing on the menu? No dry cleaning to pick up, no salads to toss, no television to distract, what else could a writer ask for?

Nothing really, but I got more. MORE in caps and bold. A terrific writer in Joan Clark, as available, knowledgeable, and wise a mentor as anyone could ever want. A workshop setting between gorgeous peaks to stir the imagination. And peers with skills, ideas, and a desire to help. I cannot begin to explain how important these few days in the Canadian Rockies have been in putting me on the course to finishing my long unrevised novel. I finally feel capable of and joyous about the task.


The site itself, of course, is amazing. The Banff Centre sits on a mountain maybe a half mile or so above the little village of Banff. It's a large complex with lodgings for artists of all kinds, several places to eat, comfortable classrooms, and access to many trails, activities, and resources.

My room was a nice-sized hotel kind of thing (blond, modern, clean lines) with so much storage I could have stayed a few months before I filled up every cubby hole. King-sized bed, long sleek desk, a breakfast table, A COFFEE POT, and in my case, a very short walk over a pedway into the dining hall.


Buffet set up with food for every imaginable picky appetite, veg, vegan, non-dairy, bland, spicy. Made to order omelettes every morning. Banquet every night. Fabulous views courtesy of floor to ceiling windows all around. Easy to eat there. No money needed. Just slide your "artist's card." My meal plan made it through the whole week, with only breakfast the last morning having to charge to my room.


The program.


In our building, the writers in the Writing with Style Program have their own lounge. This is Workshop Central with mail slots for each writer. Two computers and a printer available 24-7. This is where readings are held (8 slots each night, unbelievable quality of material) Tue-Fri nights at eight. Welcome party and so-long party also fit nicely into the space.


The classrooms are located across the street--well, a new building is being built in the middle of that street, but somewhere beyond the backhoe are the classrooms. And as is perfect for writers, "The Kiln" coffee house is right there in the building, lattes and sandwiches available until 7:00 every night with the swipe of that card.


The people.


Robert Kroetsch. Writer in Residence. Making sure you felt as if he'd been waiting for YOU to walk through the door.


Edna Alford, retiring director (and founder too I think) of Writing with Style program. What a wonderful, supportive, passionate woman. She made certain that every writer felt comfortable and respected.

And of course, Joan Clark, an extraordinary mentor. Funny, casual, down-to-earth, with-it-attitude, in addition to being a pioneer for Canadian literature and an inspiration to all writers. I sound a little star-struck because I am.


My fellow writers in the historical fiction group: Helen, Jane, Alanda, Voula, Chandra, and Doug. Amazing talent, intelligence, and sincerity. Love you all.


It was a terrific experience for me. I feel now that I can actually get my novel What Came Before into the kind of shape it needs to be to begin sending it out. This is my goal and now I feel one step closer to achieving it because of my time at Writing in Style.

2 comments:

Madeline said...

Glad you had such a wonderful time, Gay! It sounds amazing. Absolutely can't wait until your novel is on the shelves. :)

sylvia said...

Wow, sounds idyllic!