Darrel J. McLeod is the author of the memoir Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age (Douglas & McIntyre), winner of the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, and finalist for the RBC Charles Taylor Prize, BC Book Prize and Victoria Butler Book Prize. Darrel has also had short stories published in Numero Cinq and The Malahat Review. The sequel to Mamaskatch, entitled Peyakow will be released in the fall of 2021. In 2018, Darrel participated in the Banff Writers’ Studio to advance his first novel which is now well underway. He is Cree from Treaty 8 territory in Alberta.
When I took Sarah Selecky’s Story Intensive a few years ago, I was already a disciplined and prolific writer but I knew I could write better – deeper and more artfully. I’d completed the editing of my first memoir Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age by then and I was looking for a well-structured program to advance my skills and enhance my practice.
After scanning the course outline for The Story Intensive, I knew I’d found the right place. I have to admit I was sceptical because the promotional materials promised the program was for writers of any skill level and that usually means that in trying to be all things for all people, a program really doesn’t meet anyone’s needs well. However, I quickly learned that the program truly is suitable for writers of all levels – and it’s the methodology that accomplishes this. From the very beginning of the Intensive I felt right at home as did the other writers in my cluster.
The practice of starting lessons with a brief examination of writing excerpts by accomplished authors with divergent styles is brilliant, as are the related exercises. And to my pleasant surprise, many “snippets” of writing that came out of the Intensive exercises found their way into my second memoir Peyakow: Restoring Cree Dignity. In fact, these experimental bits were the sections that garnered the most praise from my editor (who had edited some 400 books by then) and from my publisher. The story “openings” I wrote in the course got me into the Banff Writers Studio in 2018 and became the openings of several chapters of my first novel.
The approach used in the Intensive sets up an environment of rich exchange of ideas and feedback between writers, and chances are, any weak spots or fears one has will get addressed at some point in the course. The Intensive brings together a community of writers who take the time to do careful review of each other’s work and share meaningful commentary
I greatly look forward to contributing my best efforts and focus to this excellent program.