Reflecting on the Banff Centre residency.

Written By Heather - November 14, 2012

Another slow and quiet day here. I spent time reading, walked down to town to buy some more fancy herbal tea (including one called ‘bear trap’ that is made from a number of different kinds of berries, and some very nice plain chamomile loose tea). Then an afternoon of working on revisions and reading about Edwardian interior design.


The residency is just about done. I have one more work day left, and then I will be packing up to go home (and looking forward to that, too…I miss the occupants of Chez Heather!). I’ve been trying to think of a way to describe the time I’ve spent here. It’s my eleventh residency, but I find that each visit back to the Banff Centre is different…each one is tempered by different experiences, and different people. I was fortunate enough to meet some really great people while I’ve been here, and also fortunate to make it through my first full set of revisions for the novel.


I think the word to describe this year is restorative. With all of the upheaval and stress of leaving a job and starting a new one and finishing grad school at the same time, the summer felt pretty chaotic. The beginning of the fall did, too. It hasn’t actually been chaotic, but it’s certainly been a lot of change in a relatively short amount of time. I wasn’t stressed or burned out by it, but it’s been challenging. Writing really took a back seat, and that was something that I regretted all summer long.

Restorative: that’s how to describe the time here. I’ve spent it very quietly, going to meals like clockwork but also steadily working on the novel. The quiet and the mountains have worked on me. I feel restored.

Perhaps it’s the feeling of quiet satisfaction as I watch the novel become more focused and transform itself into a better story. Perhaps it’s the respite from emails and phone calls, the buffet dinners and the ability to sit and read at every meal. To go for a walk and listen to the silence that comes from no traffic and to hear the twittering of the small birds and the ravens in the distance. The meals with old friends and with new. All of these things.


Whatever it is, it’s just what I needed. I’m writing again and liking it. I’m feeling rested and relaxed. I am full of excellent braised ribs from dinner tonight. These are all good things.

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