Banff Centre for the Arts: Introducing the Program in Literary Journalism

This summer, from July 4 to July 16, Banff is offering a new program, Literary Journalism. Meetings are in-person on the Banff campus. Self knows one of the instructors, Charlotte Gill.

Self was at Banff Writers Studio, seven years ago, when she was just starting her novel, and the feedback she got from her mentors was invaluable. She wishes she could enroll for this program, as she’d do anything to get back to Banff again, but she’s not a journalist. (The only caveat was that she got fat. They give you a food allowance at the start, and there are five eateries to choose from. By the end of the five weeks, everyone in her program was complaining how much weight they’d gained. Then we had to pose for group pictures, which was really embarrassing.)

At the MacLab, she once sat one table over from k. d. lang — exciting, except she didn’t find out until after k.d. lang left. Part of the Writer’s Studio is giving a public reading, and self signed up for the very last day. She was so nervous, she had to drink a glass of wine beforehand. The story she read from was “Sand,” and had — profanity! There was some restless movement from the audience when she uttered the first word. After that, only laughter. So great.

btw, it took a while, but “Sand” finally found a home last year, in Pembroke Magazine:

Banff Centre’s Literary Journalism 2022 program encourages the exploration of new ideas in journalism and experimentation in writing. Designed to challenge and stimulate, the program aims to inspire creative pieces of nonfiction and to assist the writers in their completion. A preeminent space for long-form journalism, this residency emphasizes the strengths of thorough and articulate reporting, distinctive storytelling, and literary devices.

Application Deadline: March 9, 2022

Complete information can be found here.

Past Squares 13: Philippine History

Self is a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines. Her Dear Departed Dad’s province was an island in the central Philippines called Negros (yes, really, the Spanish named the island after its inhabitants, who were dark-skinned)

For today’s Past Squares post (many, many thanks to Becky at Life of B for hosting the Squares Challenge), here are two books on Philippine History that she’s found invaluable while doing research for her current project, a novel about a 16th century Spanish priest who is sent to the Philippines to fight demons:

Revising Ch. X of CAMAROTE DE MARINERO (98k Words, Novel)

Chapter X of Camarote de Marinero

Who Owns This Island?

The Philippines, 1652

The soldiers spotted Ka Bukay, standing uncertainly at the edge of the forest. Ka Bukay had taken the precaution of laying down his bow and arrows.

“You there!” a soldier called out to Ka Bukay. “Who owns this island?”

Ka Bukay knew Spanish, for he was intelligent and besides had worked on a mission on the next island, before coming home to Isla del Fuego.

“God,” Ka Bukay answered.

“No,” the tall soldier responded. “Spain owns this island.”

“I’m All for Spare Writing, But — “

The above was the response of an English agency to self’s horror story, The Rorqual.

It’s taken her years, but the writing of this has been an absolute joy. And, no matter how many changes self makes to the main narrative, this first paragraph is a given:

  • The report came from somewhere on the Bering Sea. The pair had left the Black Hills the previous morning. The woman, it appeared, was headed for Baranof, the man for Kuiu. Both were on foot.

BARANOF? KUIU? WTH, self has never been to that part of the world.  Nevertheless, that first paragraph came to her whole, some years ago. Not one word has self ever cut. It’s not so much information as rhythm self sought to establish here. And this first paragraph, the rhythm it sets forth, is what has enabled self to proceed.

So many magazines refuse to even take a look: “We don’t do genre.”

Most people who have read her manuscript use the word “ambitious.” One even called it massively ambitious.

But if you don’t go for broke with your writing, why even bother? Sure, she fails about as often as she manages to connect, but the failing is part of her process. Writing is the one activity where self operates without the benefit of a safety net, which is why, in her humble opinion, the activity is so “pure.”

As for genre, self swims in genre. She adores genre.

Stay tuned.

#amwriting a Longer Short Story

It opens:

  • David Fowler and his wife, Edith, were from Iowa. They were both blonde, blue-eyed, stocky – real, true-blooded, plains Americans. Gusts of a wholesome Midwest freshness came with them on the steamer across the Pacific.

Gloomy Forest 1 (#amwriting)

Self is attempting to finish all she has left unfinished.

Attempt # 1:

The woman took the letter and set off, but soon got lost and found herself wandering in a forest. In the gathering darkness she saw a faint light glimmering among the trees. She made for it and eventually found herself in front of a cottage. Inside, an old woman sat dozing at a cheerful fire. The old woman took fright at the sudden appearance of the stranger and demanded, “Where have you sprung from and where are you going?” The woman answered, “I’m taking a letter” but forgot everything else. In the end, what is true is what remains.

 

When Will She Finish This (From a Year Ago)

TO DO

Weekend in Mendocino: Clouds lower, spit rain. The meadows on the headlands are green like Ireland’s. No flowers yet, it’s still early in the year.

Out there, where the surf meets the cliffs, lives a Kraken.

Fabrications

Self is getting a little loopy with her readings on Philippine history. At least, despite the lack of fresh air (due to her not leaving her cottage all day) and the soreness of her fingers (from constant typing), she’s been able to add to her treasure trove of

INVENTED CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN HIS MAJESTY CARLOS III AND THE GOVERNOR GENERAL OF MANILA

An excerpt:

To His Sacred Royal Majesty Carlos III

I arrived in Manila on the 25th of June of the year seventy-nine to assume my post. I learned that in the three months prior to my arrival, Manila had once again been attacked by our cousins the Portuguese, and that the shipyards in Cavite had been put to the torch. I was also informed that the King of Jolo, a Mahometan, had refused our demands for tribute, putting to death the officer who had delivered our demand, one Sancho Ortiz de Alvarez.

The morale of the garrisons in the main island of Luzon is very low. The aide-de-camp, one Martin de Peñafrancia, was lacking in experience, and his interpreter, an indio named Hernando, could speak Spanish, but not well.

The letter goes on in this vein for several more paragraphs.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Novel-in-Progress: Blue Water, Distant Shores

Self added a scene to her novel-in-progress today and is quite happy with it (p. 68 of 341 pp.)

Murcia, 1762

Father Soriano: “Is there no end to your obstinate impudence? What can you hope for?”

Matias: “Why, to fight against devils.”

Father Soriano: “I should strike you for such impiety. What makes you think you can fight against devils?”

Matias: “I shall strike them in the belly and when they least expect it. The Lord shall assist me.”

Father Soriano: “What impudence! The Lord assist — you? Ask away, then. I doubt He will listen.”

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Work-in-Progress: Blue Water, Distant Shores

In which self’s MC, a feckless guy from Murcia named Matias, confesses to the local Abbott that he has suddenly been struck by “the call.” Year: 1764.

Abbott: You have never evinced interest.

Matias: Can one not be struck by the desire? It came to me suddenly.

Abbott: When?

Matias: After the recent flood.

Abbott: I see.

Matias: I was afraid. I promised Saint Anne I would enter the priesthood if she but stopped the wind from howling.

That is one of the passages self happens to really like, whether or not it is historically accurate.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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