Sunday, October 18, 2009
For me, my writing is the river in my life and like a river if it's dammed for a time it will eventually break free and flood out in new and exciting ways. There are times when my river of writing is slower, calmer, and weaves it's way through my days in a mellow, soothing way. Sometimes though, it becomes a torrent carrying me to places I thought I wasn't ready to go, opening my eyes to aspects of myself I didn't realize existed and constantly broadening and deepening my perception of the world and people around me. It's in these times of torrent my writing leaps to undiscovered heights, gains strength and breaks free of its previous boundaries in skill, style and workmanship.
I've discovered there's a pattern to the raging rushes of inspiration and activity which disturb my sleep patterns and make my fingers itch to connect with the keys on the computer or draw words across the pages in my notebook. First comes restlessness and indecision, gusts of wind testing the forest of ideas and pondering. Then comes the need for physical activity, an overwhelming urge to get out and run, walk, somehow get away. The itch comes last. Words waiting at the ends of my fingers, the skin on my body alert with desire. I know then is the time to sit down at the computer and let the zone come - everything is forgotten and I become totally immersed in the world of the story - emerging 5 or 6 hours later weak with hunger.
Connections are important too. Rivers connect with the land, hugged between banks of rock and sand, they bring life to the trees around and the fish which reside in it's ecosystem. I've been strongly immersed in writing mode lately and there’s been rash of emails between myself and a few writer friends, seeking and giving feedback, as we each try and perfect what we’re working on. I sometimes look at it this way. People who love to read must read. People who love to write must both read and write and rewrite and rewrite many times.
Reading and writing are both solitary activities and I've found that knowing and talking with other writers and belonging to part of the nurturing community of my writers group has helped my writing and confidence grow exponentially. In the group we talk about writing, give each other feedback, problem solve for ideas when we're stuck on where to send something or how to find a specific piece of information and even, on occasion, just take the time to write in the same room with other people.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
I recently got back from attending the Banff Centre for the Arts where they have a number of writing programs. The most commonly known ones being 'Writing with Style' and 'Wired Writing.' I attended the 'Writing with Style' program and workshoped my story, originally titled 'Story of a Dead Man', which explores the memories of a man who discovers too late that life is too short to make choices for other people.
The most amazing part of my Banff trip was the realization of how much I pull from my surroundings when I'm writing. There were two aspects of being in Banff which I drew on especially. The first was the train. Every few hours (during the night and day) a train whistle would ghost across the campus - which was wonderful as I love trains. The second thing was the Graveyard. The Graveyard lay just a few minutes walk from my dorm room. I saw it the first day when I went for a walk to check out the land. I love graveyards and I was especially fascinated with the stonework construction of two of the cairns. (which I originally thought were garden sheds..oops!) After two days I got the first sentence of my revision, which now begins in Grey Mountain Cemetery (in the Yukon) and has a train whistle.
More information on the writing programs at the Banff Centre for the Arts can be found at http://www.banffcentre.ca/writing/
Aside from various programs in Art, Writing, Music and other programs the facilities are wonderful including a climbing wall (which is 30' tall and totally cool to play on), a pool, gyms, basketball courts, hiking trails and beautiful mountains. Just don't plan on getting lots of sleep as most of the students in my group (including myself) had difficulty sleeping. However, despite that, it was an experience which I would definitely repeat.