Sunday, 7 February 2016

Writing and Retreating

 

View from my room at the Banff Centre
The Writers Guild of Alberta Annual Banff Retreat gives writers a chance to withdraw from the demands of daily life and advance towards writing. A writer-in-residence organizes occasional group meetings and readings and sits with each retreat member one-on-one to discuss their writing. This year's writer-in-residence, Stephen Ross Smith, is one of more personable people I have met: even battling a cold, he was relaxed and cheerful.
I am here for nine days. A few people have attended the retreat before; others, including me, are here for the first time. Talking and interacting with this group has revealed to me the variety of activities and  experiences that constitute the creative life. Prose, poetry, photography, journalism, translation and music are among their products. Several people are members of Borderlines, an Edmonton-based writing circle sponsored by the WGA and consisting of recent immigrants to Canada: among the group are poets, journalists, a blogger and a screenwriter from countries such as Chile, Nepal, Russia, and Egypt.

I sit in my room and work on my novel (and this blog) without having to grade assignments or walk the dog. The campus consists of several buildings, large and small, with gravel-strewn paths up and down and around, winding their way around like the mind winds itself when directing its energies to a particular writing problem (what are the names of some bars in Montreal?) or to the waxing and waning of confidence and stamina. The food is good (maybe too good)--I am most grateful that I don't have to cook.

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