Writing Shapes My Life

In late September I was lucky enough to accompany my husband to his company conference at The Banff Centre in beautiful Banff, Alberta.  While he attended sessions, took pictures of delegates and prepared their conference newsletter each day, I was on my own.  Steeped in the brisk mountain air–we woke up to a few inches of snow the first day–I wandered the Centre’s walkways with my camera and an open mind.  This is the snowy mountain view I met on the way to breakfast.

Back in my room I opened my laptop,  pulled a water bottle from the wee fridge and sat down, ignoring the panorama outside my window and immersing myself in a book about life in Ontario, well, when it was originally part of Quebec province and then Upper Canada.  I have a system for these books.  Skim through the index first to find which chapters are most applicable to my topic.  Then read through the pages looking for tidbits and giant discoveries.  When I find something interesting–a list of contraceptive methods in the 1800’s, for instance–I stick a post-it flag in the margin.  As my reading progresses my book has dozens of such markers.

After two days of searching I had lots of flags in my book and prepared to move on.  I sat at my laptop and referenced each of those post-it flags.  For short notes I simply typed in that which had piqued my interest but for longer paragraphs I made a note to photocopy the page once I got home, a process which makes underlining, note making and other various doodles possible.

Though tedious, this system allows me to do my research wherever I am as long as I have my laptop and once I’ve finished with the material I purge my files.

While at the prestigious Banff Centre I did not take any time to search out writers who might happen to be staying there, but I was well aware of the Centre’s prestigious programs for all the arts.  One final picture for me links the creation all around us with what happens at the Centre.

Click the link at the beginning of the article to read about Banff Centre’s writing programs.  Mmmm.


2 thoughts on “Writing Shapes My Life

  1. Spectacular pictures, Elaine! Could you imagine writing in that setting every day? Looks like you have a good system for the extensive research you do even when away from home. Karen Weisner suggested keeping a ‘research’ doc that keeps all the research together for one project. I find this useful for all the tidbits I pull off the internet. Not very sophisticated, but helpful none-the-less. Don’t bring any snow home!


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