Lana’s debut story collection, Moving Parts, was published in 2015 and shortlisted for the 2016 ReLit Awards. She has written and produced plays for stage, radio and film and her writing has appeared in Little Bird Stories: Volumes I and II and Taddle Creek, and ELLE Canada. She was longlisted for the 2014 CBC Short Story Prize and won the Random House of Canada Creative Writing Award at the University of Toronto in 2012. Lana was born in Saskatchewan, studied in Montreal, and is an alumnus of the Banff Wired Writing Studio. She lives in Toronto and is a freelance video producer, director, and story editor.
Last semester, I was surprised at how often I found myself repeating: “push through the resistance” or, “don’t worry about getting it right” or, “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” In hindsight, I should not have been surprised at all because it was my own battle with resistance that pushed me forward. Through Story Is a State of Mind, I found a writing system that works. I was able to develop a deeper sense of faith in the writing process and began to trust my voice, and I feel this is an experience worth sharing.
In our daily lives we are conditioned to get things right, we strive for answers and conclusions and logic, but for a writer, it’s about undoing all those things. Writing is about listening to your gut, your instincts, and working under the notion of “what if”. I believe we learn through failing and experimentation and pushing our limits out of our comfort zones. We learn by taking risks and this school is a safe place to do just that. This is how a writer grows.
My responsibility as a teacher is to remind writers of what is possible, and steer them into places they may not go otherwise. This school is where a person can try new things, and take risks and be inspired by peers and influenced by readings and keep going even if you think something stinks. If not here, then where?
Confession: When I first started taking classes from Sarah Selecky, I thought: Look at this woman handing out all of her writing secrets. Doling them out like trays of sandwiches. She’s fueling the fire of her own competition. Students who finish the classes are going to simply go out and write a bunch of best sellers. Remarkable.
Obviously, it’s not that simple. But if someone wants to become a better writer or learn more about writing, Story Is a State of Mind is a good place to start. Writing is an intensely solitary activity that puts a person in a vulnerable place and being part of a community of likeminded, dedicated, supportive individuals is invaluable. As a teacher, I am here to guide, cheer, steer, and offer feedback and encouragement along the way.
I have received some stellar guidance so far in my writing career and I want to give back. Nuggets like: Discipline is the antidote to resistance. Show up for the work. Writers write. Who cares if it all sounds the same?
I am grateful to have this opportunity to offer advice and perhaps impart some knowledge that will help an emerging writer see new possibilities in their work. Selfishly, encouraging new writers to trust themselves, and the process, is a healthy reminder for my own writing.
We’re in this together.