Write Beyond the Boundaries

Write Beyond the Boundaries

Ruth E. Walker.

Earlier this month, I attended a cottage-country film festival in the Village of Haliburton, catching the last three of five films on offer. There were no red carpets, no star-studded galas.  And the sole  “paparazzo” was equipped with a nifty cell phone. Nonetheless, it was a life-changing moment for this writer. I gained a deeper understanding of three vital pieces of any creative enterprise.

Perspective

 

Perception

 

 

 

 

Persistence

But first some background

Doc(k) Day is a documentary film festival, organized by THOSE OTHER MOVIES Haliburton, a non-profit organization run by volunteers. It’s part of the Film Circuit, a division of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and has brought some fabulous festival films to the Haliburton Highlands.

I love TIFF and attend one screening a year in Toronto with my friend Heidi. A film festival with Heidi is often an adventure, so much so that I blogged about it on my own website. There was a bit less excitement at Doc(k) Day, but no less a moving experience.

The three documentaries I managed to attend were excellent. Directed by Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais, and created and narrated by Lawrence Gunther, What Lies Below is a remarkable film about the interconnectedness of the world’s waterways and how so many of us are blind to what is happening to an ecosystem we can’t see. All the more moving when you learn that documentarian Gunther has been blind since childhood.

Garry Beitel’s In Pursuit of Peace explores the world of peacekeeping in the 21st century and how Canadians are still filling that role despite our political shift to combatants instead of peacekeepers. It’s an excellent, and often daunting, glimpse into the challenges of conflict resolution in our fractured world. Nonetheless, I was left feeling optimistic.

Perspective.  Perception.  Persistence.

Cameraperson from Kirsten Johnson, renowned documentary filmmaker and cinematographer (Citizenfour, Fahrenheit 9/11) was in a class unto its own. Breaking boundaries of documentary film-making, Johnson gives the audience access to a kind of filmic memoir. From her personal catalogue of outtakes, side projects and shot set-ups, she marries highly personal film sequences with scenes in post-Serbian-war Bosnia, a day-in-the-life of a Nigerian midwife, a Brooklyn boxing match and several other fascinating snippets of people, places and events.

At first, we never rest long in any one place, and it is a challenge to make connections between the disparate scenes. But eventually, the struggle lessens as the camera’s eye guides us to understanding. We return to familiar scenes and people, hear their words, learn their fears, comprehend their circumstances. And the energy of the whole begins to take shape.

At least, it did for me. Judging by the audience reception, the film moved many others to new perspectives. But we had to slow down our process. We needed to allow our perception to make room for different, for strange, for fresh. And we had to be persistent in giving the film time to take us there.

A writer can learn from film

Here is where the writer in me was doing an internal dance for joy. What if I took that same approach with the book I plan to start writing this summer? Slow down the process. Make room for different ways to explore and take in the research. Allow “strange and fresh” room to take hold of my imagination. Be persistent in this slow-cooking process of inspiration. Let the shape of the thing that I will eventually write find its own way into my mind.

I’m used to chasing after my ideas. To following my characters on their journeys. To setting out with a question as my launch pad. Instead, I’m going to let the question come to me. Maybe it won’t even be a question. Maybe it will be something I’ll perceive for the first time. Some new perspective on an old idea. Or a persistent voice whispering in my ear.

Disparate scenes from the past might mingle with today. Like Kirsten Johnson, maybe I’ll find a new way of storytelling. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, let me know if a film has ever spoken to you as a writer the way Cameraperson did for me.

DID YOU KNOW

Our website holds an archive of all our blog posts. You’ll find useful tips, interesting insights and practical advice from the Writescape Team and a few guest bloggers. And don’t forget to visit our retreats and workshops section to discover what’s coming up with Writescape. You’re always welcome to Escape to write with Writescape.

Spring Thaw 2019

Spring Thaw 2019

April 26-28, or April 26-30, 2019

Looking for writing time? Polishing a project? Looking for feedback from two professional editors? Or just want time to rejuvenate your creativity? Don’t miss Spring Thaw.

This all-inclusive writing retreat is held at the fabulous Elmhirst’s Resort on Rice Lake in Keene. Stay for the weekend or treat yourself to an extra two days of writing.

    • 10-page manuscript evaluation with written feedback from Gwynn and Ruth
    • one-on-one consultation with either Gwynn or Ruth
    • private writing time
    • optional daytime creativity sessions to fire up your pen
    • a companion workbook with inspiration, prompts and supports
    • optional evening activities to network and share ideas and inspiration with retreat colleagues
    • private room in comfortable, fully equipped cottages with wood-burning fireplace
    • first-class amenities and delicious meals
    • add the Extend-Your-Pen option and treat yourself to focused writing time April 28 to 30

Brochure 2019

Register now

Your weekend, your way

…amazing feedback!; free writing time; workshops & group activities; lively discussions with other writers…

Spring Thaw participant

Program Room
Program Room

Tailor your weekend to suit your needs.There is an agenda and formal programming, but you choose which sessions and activities will work for you.

Write in your jammies

Sunrise photo of cottage at ElmhirstWriting in-cottage

Cozy cottages are well-stocked for your breakfast. Enjoy your private room with shared living areas including living room, full kitchen and bathrooms. Those who want to hunker down and write don’t need to surface until lunch.

Dinner with a view

Dinners are a delight in the lakeside dining room. Elmhirst's Sunday Brunch

Special dietary needs are always accommodated with advance notice.

The Sunday brunch at Elmhirst’s Resort is legendary and a highlight for many of our retreat participants.

Questions? info@writescape.ca // 905-728-7823

Register Now

Maximum of 20 participants. Extend Your Pen option available for a maximum of 10 participants.

Discounts available for Writescape retreat alumni and members of writing organizations

3-day option $925             5-day option $1350

Cottagers and area residents — send us an email for the Spring Thaw Day Rate: info@writescape.ca

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When payment is received, a Writescape representative will contact you by email to confirm your registration. Thank you for registering with Writescape.

Just Write! at Glentula

Just Write! at Glentula

Three or Five days to Just Write!

If you want a retreat that won’t break the budget, try this three- or five-day getaway at Glentula on the shores of Lake Seymour just over an hour east of Durham.

Montage with words -- The many lovely faces of Glentula

Be inspired

Nestled in the forest, on the shores of Lake Seymour, Glentula offers peace and inspiration. Five acres of forest and walking trails, streams and lake, gardens, gazebos and secret hideaways. And inside, a bright workroom, book-lined study, or your own private room give plenty of options to write in.

Be supported

Gwynn is onsite and ready to support your writing. She is available for consultation and chats each afternoon. After-dinner readings give participants an opportunity for group feedback. Optional warm-up writing sessions and activities are available each morning.

Be comfortable

Glentula is a private cottage home with single and double occupancy rooms. All your meals and snacks are provided. This intimate retreat is open to a maximum of five participants: 3 single room (double or queen beds), 1 double occupancy (twin beds). Registration includes accommodations, meals and all-day access to beverages and snacks.

Your Just Write at Glentula retreat program includes:

DAY ONE:

  • 10:00 am: Arrive and settle in; explore the grounds, or start your writing right away.
  • 11:00 am: Introductory session to meet your fellow writers, and find out what’s on offer. Warm up your pen with a few creative writing exercise and sharing.
  • 12:30 pm: self-serve lunch in the dining room: hot soup or crockpot fare, breads, cheese, salads, fruit & cookies
  • Afternoon: Private writing time. Explore situation-themed prompts drawing inspiration from the woods and the lake available at “Inspiration Stations.”
  • 5:30 pm: Cottage-style BBQ dinner (dine al fresco, weather permitting); Group readings, feedback and discussion or writerly activities.

DAY TWO:

  • 7  to 9 am: Self-serve breakfast: hot or cold cereal, fruit and juice, yoghurt,eggs, toast, muffins and bagels.
  • 9:30 am: Warm-up writing prompts and freefall, followed by silent writing time.
  • 12:30 pm: self-serve lunch
  • Afternoon: free time to write or relax. Situation-themed prompts drawing inspiration from the woods and the lake available at “Inspiration Stations.” Gwynn available for one-on-one discussion of your writing project.
  • Evening: sit down, three-course dinner. Group readings (at the campfire, weather permitting), feedback and discussion or writerly activities.

DAY THREE:

  • 7  to 9 am: Self-serve breakfast
  • 9:30 am: Warm-up writing prompts and freefall, followed by silent writing time.
  • 12:30 pm: self-serve lunch
  • Afternoon: free time to write or relax. Situation-themed prompts drawing inspiration from the woods and the lake available at “Inspiration Stations.” Gwynn available for one-on-one discussion of your writing project.
  • 4 pm:  Closing session.

Next dates available:  Summer 2018. Contact info@writescape.ca 

Registration:

3 Days: $385

5 Days: $545

PLEASE NOTE: When you hit the “Add to Cart” button, the PayPal order will show up at the top of the column to the right. To be taken to PayPal to finish your purchase, click on the yellow PayPal button. You can use a credit card on the PayPal site – you do not have to have a PayPal account.

HST will be charged at checkout. HST # 821104853RT0001

Getting There:

Glentula is at 101 Morningside Drive, Havelock, ON. Click here for directions.

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