On Coming Home from the Banff Winter Writers Retreat

Banff Writing Retreat

“We should celebrate what we’ve achieved here. Just getting ourselves here was an achievement,” said a fellow writer on our last evening together.

In the plane on my way home, I reviewed the reams of rambling ‘thinking’ notes I’d made while away — to get a sense of how far my project had come during the past three weeks of focused work. Then I jotted down a final Banff note:

… Yes, it seemed you were spinning wheels at times, going over certain territory you’d already gone over, but I really don’t think you should consider any of it wasted. You’ve made a huge leap in your thinking about this project and although it will no doubt continue to evolve, you’ve created a good path to follow for the next while. I do feel after this exercise that I have much to celebrate. And dear Peter [my partner] is waiting to welcome me home with his signature apple crisp on my arrival, having already sent a beautiful email this morning [before I left Banff] that expresses perfectly his understanding of what the Banff Retreat has meant to me. What a lucky woman I am.

Here’s what Peter said in his email:

It seems this has been a wonderful chance for you to re-envision your novel, to spend time with people with similar creative spirits and projects, to organize each day according to what best suits your needs in terms of the project and what it needs. No pesky diversions to intrude on your consciousness.

He captured it perfectly. Knowing he understood meant the world to me. It made the prospect of having to leave the retreat to come home a whole lot easier.

Now, how to keep up the momentum I built in Banff going, now that I’m back in the world of “pesky diversions”?

I’ll put my phone out of reach while writing, and I’ll close my email program so that if I have to check a detail on the internet I won’t be diverted by the little number on the Inbox.

But what else? Any suggestions?

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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson


  1. mitchellcatherine on February 12, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Yes, one suggestion Kathy – keep this photo on your screen. It will remind you of all that happened in Banff.

    • Kathy on February 12, 2020 at 12:08 pm

      Wonderful idea. Thanks Catherine. 🙂

    • Janet Barclay on February 12, 2020 at 1:24 pm

      That is a great idea!

      I suggest making a list of those “pesky diversions” and figuring out which ones are worthwhile and if there are any you can eliminate. (I hope I make the cut!)

      • Kathy on February 12, 2020 at 2:53 pm

        Another great idea. Thanks.
        I hope you make the cut too! 😀

        • Janet Barclay on February 12, 2020 at 2:54 pm


          • Kathy on February 12, 2020 at 2:56 pm

            I wouldn’t worry about it too much.❤

  2. janlcoates on February 12, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    That Peter. Such a wordsmith! And your retreat sounds lovely. At least the lovely Georgia will be one of those “pesky diversions.”

    • Kathy on February 12, 2020 at 2:51 pm

      He is. It was. And both Georgia and Peter are very nice “pesky diversions”
      to have. 🙂

  3. jalind on February 14, 2020 at 11:04 am

    Kathy Stinson | On Coming Home from the Banff Winter Writers RetreatKathy, what a delightful blog. I didn’t know you had decided to go to Banff. I know you had told me your were considering it, but weren’t sure how it would work out. I’m glad it worked well, and that Peter was so okay about it. Yes, you are a lucky woman. You earned and deserve the whole thing.

    It was minus 19 this morning. COLD. I’m sure it’s even colder in Rockwood. Happy Chinese New Year & Valentine’s.


    • Kathy on February 14, 2020 at 12:28 pm

      You are so kind. Thank you.
      Only marginally colder here.
      Happy Days to you too!

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