Letter to Banff

This August I was incredibly fortunate to have attended Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Autobiography and Fiction with Electric Literature residency.

All Banff Centre’s programs are highly regarded, but when I saw they were working together with the illustrious digital publisher Electric Literature, and that the focus of the residency was to “explore the distinctions and intersecting themes between genres, such as when to be beholden to the truth and when to break free from it, writing fiction vs. memoir (and how to decide which is which), and teasing satisfying narrative threads from real life“, I knew I had to apply. I’m working on a fictionalized memoir based on my time living in Donegal as a child.

I certainly did not expect to get in, but I did, and I was also awarded financial aid from the Centre and a travel grant to help with costs.

The experience was exceptional: an extraordinarily diverse and talented group of participants, editorial consultations and group seminars with Electric Literature editors Halimah Marcus and Jess Zimmerman, group and individual discussions with guest faculty Meredith Talusan and Susan Choi. We also had the honour of attending a deeply inspiring guest speaker event featuring the Canadian poet, essayist and novelist Dionne Brand. There were two reading nights where all participants had a chance to read from their work.

Most of my time, however, was spent holed up in my gorgeous room (the Center’s accommodations have recently been extensively renovated) looking out onto pine trees and the mountains while tapping away at my computer. All my needs taken care of, and with only supportive writerly distractions, I managed to write 20,000 words during those two weeks.

This was not my first time at the Centre –  I participated in the Wired Writing Studio in 2011 (two weeks at the Centre and twenty weeks online mentorship with author Marina Endicott) – and I sincerely hope it will not be my last. While this particular residency was special because of Electric Literature’s involvement, the general atmosphere, surroundings and participant support at the Centre could not be more encouraging for anyone involved in a creative endeavour.

Thank you Banff Centre, thank you Electric Literature!

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Final news from 2011

My time at the Banff Centre was wonderful. What a perfect place for artists and writers! I’m very pleased with my mentor, Marina Endicott. The online portion of the Wired Writing program is well underway and I am more than happy with how things are going. What a blessing to have Marina’s insightful comments and editing, and to have a deadline each week to force me to get to work… Marina feels I should have a final draft by the end of the mentorship period (end of March, 2012).


In the meantime, an early draft of my novel is long-listed for the Mslexia Women’s Novel competition. Further results will be in January, 2012, and I am lucky enough to once again be accepted for the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy next year. (See my earlier blog on Sirenland).

A flash story of mine was published in The Irish Times, “The Promise” and also in 100 Word Story, “Workout“.

Wishing everyone the best for the holidays and see you in 2012!

The Banff Centre’s Wired Writing Studio

I have been accepted for the Banff Centre’s Wired Writing Studio. This means two weeks at the Banff Centre in Alberta this October, and twenty weeks online mentorship. I’m very excited – I have been hoping for a mentor to help me finish my novel. The Banff Centre’s programs are competitive and highly regarded. I have also been awarded financial aid from the Centre, so all in all I’m very grateful. Now, to get the novel to 2nd draft so I can start the ‘real’ work on arrival in October!


© Copyright 2011 Roy Tennant, FreeLargePhotos.com.

From The Banff Centre’s website:

About the Wired Writing Studio

The Wired Writing Studio is a unique opportunity for poets and writers of fiction and other narrative prose to pursue their artistic visions and develop their voices through one-on-one editorial assistance from experienced writers/editors, as well as through involvement in a community of working writers, both on-site at The Banff Centre and online for five months following the residency.

Program Director: Fred Stenson
Barry Dempster – poetry, Stan Dragland – fiction and other narrative prose, Marina Endicott – fiction and other narrative prose, Sue Goyette – poetry, Alissa York – fiction and other narrative prose, Chris Fisher – technical advisor