Lectio

Done. Done!

By Heather Clitheroe - October 30, 2014

I am done. First draft of the novel was finished last night, in the quiet of the studio.

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So, so much work. I ploughed through it this last week, piecing together the work I’d already done, thinking about the story and the characters, and writing new material. The writing I’ve done here — the last third of the book, basically — feels like a truer, more authentic voice. There’s a marked difference (to my eyes, at least) between it and the earlier work. But now that I’ve found that voice, I think I can hold onto it, sustain it through the revisions.

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This year of writing, I feel like I’m finding my voice. I owe so much to the Women Destroy Science Fiction project, to Christie Yant and Wendy Wagner (among so many others) for their endless enthusiasm. To my editor, Katey Schultz, who has been reading through awful first drafts with me and giving me honest advice and feedback — a mini-MFA all in its own. To the friends cheering me along, mom and dad. Writing can feel like such a solitary act, but really, no. It’s the community of friends and family that make it possible to write my cyborg conspiracy stories. Really. You guys are the best.

And also the great silence of Banff, the wind that murmurs through the trees and buffets you, the feeling that the mountains are listening.

There’s a long road of work ahead; still so much to do to bring this draft to a point where it’s ready to go out. But it’s done and I’m ready.

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Monday.

By Heather Clitheroe - October 27, 2014

Banff has been magical. I’m more than halfway through my residency, and I’ve been chased by deer, started by pine martens, and nervously looking out my window for the grizzly bear the Park Service has warned us about. Bear 148 is wandering around the area, eating people’s jack o’ lanterns and looking for berries. Which is just fine until you realize, as my friends Chris and Sarah say, that there are at least 147 other bears out there.

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I’m sleeping better than I ever have at a Banff residency, and writing well. I had a meeting with my editor (over teh internets!) on Thursday, and we talked about the trajectory of the novel and the work I’ve been doing on characters. And to get some last minute advice and encouragement, because heaven knows you need it when you’re in a creaky little studio working on a book. She’s checking in with me on Tuesday. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to say that I’m done the first draft when I talk to her. That’s the goal!

But there’s still time to do other things. I walked down to town and had dinner with Chris and Sarah and their little guy, Louis. Roast beef! Yorkshire pudding! Selfies!

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(“Oh, yeah, Heather, I know how to selfie. Okay! Make a funny face!”)

And then we got in the car and went skating.

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Lou told me he thought we’d both fall down a lot, but astonishingly, neither one of us did. And after skating, a trip to Tim Horton’s because you need donuts after you go skating.

A really lovely night. And today? I’m in the studio, preparing to buckle down and FINISH THIS BOOK!

Tucked away at the Banff Centre.

By Heather Clitheroe - October 24, 2014

I promise that there is, in fact, writing going on. Really. Truly.

But also a trip up to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Lunch in town with good company, and then a trip up the gondola where the rain turned to snow.

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Lots of snow. These tourists were pretty excited about it:

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And we managed to catch the eclipse, which I was pretty excited about:

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So the plan for today is more writing. I have a meeting with my editor in the morning on Google Hangouts, some laundry going, and a plan to write like the wind. The novel feels like it’s coming together. I’m starting to see the characters are going, finding new connections for them (largely as a result of that walking meditation — the third part of that trip was to stand and listen to the whisperings of the story, which was inspiring in ways I didn’t expect).

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I’m starting to think that I just may emerge from this studio at the end of next week with a book.

Back in Banff.

By Heather Clitheroe - October 22, 2014

I am happily ensconced in another residency at the Banff Centre. The last for this year (I’ve applied to go back in January; waiting to hear on that but I’m not too worried). The weather is still very autumnal. Cool and crisp, a bit rainy. A bit of fresh snow up on the mountains. I went for a hike with a guide yesterday, but otherwise, I’ve been working away in my studio.

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It’s such a privilege to get to be here. The writing is going well.

Banff Centre redux.

By Heather Clitheroe - October 18, 2014

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I’m packing up the rolling suitcase again and making my way west, to the Banff Centre. I was there just three weeks ago, but it feels like it’s been much longer. I’m going out there to try to finish the novel.

That is perhaps the most exciting and terrifying thing I could type. But I’m going to try to do it. I have my notes, my outlines, a diabolical plot, and the characters fixed firmly in my mind. Now all I have to do is complete the execution. Get the fire started, so to speak. I’m on vacation for the next three weeks, and I’m going to try to squeeze everything I can out of the project. And still take some time to lie about, reading in my pajamas.

So, packing. Naturally the cat is lying on anything dark.

Happy Thanksgiving!

By Heather Clitheroe - October 13, 2014

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We had a lovely turkey dinner last night: turkey, potatoes, turnip, peas and carrots, stuffing, and apple pie for dessert, as our guest didn’t care for pumpkin. The pumpkin pie is for today, with the turkey sandwiches.

Amazing to think that this time last year, I was still preparing to go back to work after surgery, worrying about how it would go.

Today I’m going to lounge about, read a Georges Simenon mystery (the translated Inspector Maigret novels are being rereleased by Penguin, hurray!), and do some writing. It’s the perfect way to spend the holiday.

Saturday.

By Heather Clitheroe - October 11, 2014

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Another week comes to a close; I had dinner with a coworker (we’ve decided we’re now friends first and coworkers second) and then hopped on the train to head out to the burbs for Dungeons and Dragons night.

It’s a happy routine I have. The steady pace of the work week, the writing I do in the mornings, the gaming nights with friends. I’m shortly on my way back to the Banff Centre for the second installment of my autumn writing residency, and that will have its own routine: of writing, of meals, of looking at the mountains. I’m going to go out on a guided hike while I’m there (there’s no way I’d walk in the woods by myself).

Tomorrow is our Thanksgiving dinner; I’ve got Monday off to read and work on the novel.