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  • Writer's pictureFrancine Cunningham

Writing Residency: The Banff Arts Centre 2015 edition

Updated: Mar 22, 2019

For five weeks from February 2- March 7 I was in Banff at the Banff Arts Centre doing a writing residency in the Indigenous Arts program. It was one of the most wonderful experiences thus far in my artistic life.

For the first time in my life I had a studio. I can't quite articulate how amazing it was to not have to work at a desk in my bedroom. Being able to leave my living space and go into another building, open a door with a key and sit down in a place dedicated to only creating was liberating. It kept me focused. I put my story boards up all over the room. I could see my novel. Scene by scene all around me. It all made sense. I had the space.

Like I mentioned before— I was focused. I truly was. I went with a backlog of short stories and poems needing to be revised, articles for work, web design and piles of visual art. During my first week I wrote two new short stories as a transition into this new world of freedom. After that everything just sort of happened. For the first time in a very long time I could see all my projects clearly. I realized I have enough short stories for an entire collection. This collection will be quirky, fun, full of canadian dystopian tales. For some reason I needed the space to really "see" everything I've created while being in my MFA.

I sent out all of my stories for submission, sent out dozens of poems and wrote an entire new draft of my thesis novel. The other amazing thing about Banff was meeting some truly great artists. There were musicians and composers, visual artists and filmmakers, people doing stuff I've never heard of before and so many people from places in the world I've never visited. I feel like I created a network of artists from around the globe and I truly hope that throughout my life I will be able to expand this network and keep adding all this inspiring people to it.

My writing currently now that I am home is me writing this fun middle grade urban fantasy mystery novel because, hey, why not? It's spring/summer and I want something light. I have a novel to really dig into this fall and it's going to be serious and heavy, and will inevitably take a really long time to write so before I commit myself fully to that I want to write this one.

So, I guess what I have to say is, I really love writing residencies and I am crossing my fingers I can line up a few more for this year because yeah, I got so much done, met so many other great artists and just had fun.




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