Monday, September 14, 2009

Amazing! Banff and Joan Clark

When I signed up to come to Banff to write for a week and get some guidance on my novel, I did it somewhat blindly. There wasn't much information on line about the offered Program, Writing in Style, and even less about the specific workshops offered. My choices were poetry, memoir, short fiction, and historical fiction.

Poetry, uh, no. And memoir? Impossible! I can't remember any thing from before I was 45. That left short fiction and historical fiction. I know I have a lot to learn about writing short, and I would certainly benefit from such a session, but that wasn't my goal in seeking out a residency. My goal was and is to finish my novel, so that left me with historical.

Not really a bad choice for me since I've written a couple shorts that fall into that category, but since there is an historical element in my novel, the fit seemed perfect. So I signed up and here I am. I didn't know what to expect.

I knew very little about the Banff Center--er, CENTRE, I'm in Canada don't you know--but the program offers a room, wi-fi, printer service, and food available that I don't have to cook, so I was good to go, up for anything.

I feel very lucky. Who I got was Joan Clark. She's written several books, including The Victory of Geraldine Gull,The Dream Carvers, Latitudes of Melt, and An Audience of Chairs plus a new one just coming out. I don't know the title, but I'll find out.

Wow, does she know her stuff...and I'm not talking about just the history part, research, authenticity, accuracy, but listening to her talk about process has made me sit up and listen. I guess it's been a long, long time since I was in a writing workshop and I'd forgotten the juice that comes from sitting around a table with seven writers.

And though I haven't seen a bear yet nor had a beer, I'm pretty happy with the whole set up. Now I get to go and write! More pictures on my Facebook Page!


Sarah Hilary said...

Wow, Gay, that place looks amazing! So much inspiration just in the setting alone, and you got a fab teacher as well. Lucky lucky you - I know you'll grab this opportunity by the horns and make the very most of it. Enjoy the rest of the week and I look forward to hearing all about it.

Gay Degani said...

Thanks Sarah. The only thing that could make this any better would be to have my writing buddy with me.

I'm reading tonight with some of students and have decided to read a bit from the Gin and Will part of my story. This makes me very nervous since this is a different voice from the rest of the novel and well some heavy stuff happens, but since I'm pretty scared to do it, I know I have to.

Sarah Hilary said...

Don't be anxious, Gay. You have an amazing story on your hands with Gin and Will. I understand that the thought of sharing the characters with others will be daunting but know this: you have the talent and the skill to tell this story and to make readers fall in love with the characters you've created. Introduce them to the group tonight and they will be treated kindly, I'm sure of it. Most of all - Enjoy! This is a situation where you are sharing your sweethearts with co-conspirators, writers with their own characters to share, it's a safe bet there will be a meeting of minds. The perfect formal start to Gin and Will's journey...

Madeline said...

Good luck tonight, Gay! Your characters will speak your words for you and for themselves. Trust in them - the characters and the words - and in yourself. :)

Gay Degani said...

Thanks Mad and Sarah for your cheerleading. It certainly gave me a boost to know that two writers I respect have such faith in me.

The reading went very well. People seemed to like what I read which came as a real relief. My subject always seems so trite to me and those who read last night were so powerful. Anyway I survived and this particular Will and Gin bit is much much stronger because of it: editing for specific readers? Priceless.

K.C. Ball said...

Congratulations, Gay. I want to hear all about it when you come home.