Monday, April 23, 2007

Banff--Writing with Style Class

All this week I'm teaching a "Writing for Children" course at Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta. It's an intensive workshopping course with 2 1/2 hours of group workshopping in the morning and the afternoon is individual sessions with the instructor (me that is). Did I mention the readings in the evening? I have seven students in all. I won't be writing about individual events or the students, but more about the overall experience.

Banff, for those who haven't seen it, is one of Canada's National parks and it's...uh...abundantly beautiful. Mountains everywhere. They fill up the sky. They fill up your mind. Can you tell I'm a prairie boy? I've been to the centre several times and it has always been an inspiring and creative time (I'm especially creative lounging about in the hot spring pool, I find, or trolling through the many candy stores). As you can imagine the atmosphere is rich with the arts. There are several other groups (poetry, creative non-fiction, Chapter One (novel) all staying in the same building. At the opening party there was quite a bit of energy. Most people, I assume, are taking time off from work or family to really concentrate on their writing. They've travelled from all over the country and the US to be here (and maybe further). And there's also that nervousness, too, "will they like my work?' "Will I get enough done?" My sense is that we're here as a team, to inspire and push each other on. I'm certainly having to examine the why's and the how's of my own writing, which I assume can only be good for my process. We're all facing the same questions here. Why do I write? How do I make my writing better? Is it good enough? And we're all facing the same blank page (or screen, I guess). The nice thing is that when we need a moment's rest from staring at the page we can stare at a mountain. Or a deer. Yes, they seem to be tame here, just hanging around. Bears, though, not so tame.

Here's the view outside my window. Mostly trees, but it gives you an idea of the place.

Did I mention the lovely dining room? Not having to make your own meals sure frees up the time for writing. But I better be sure to go for a few long walks.

Ah, almost time for the first class. Let the adventure begin!


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