Artists, find yourselves in each other.
Today I led the third day of my short fiction workshop at The Banff Centre. The Banff Centre, for those of you who don't know it, is an exquisite artists' retreat built in the middle of the mountains in Alberta, Canada.
There are several writing workshops happening here right now, but there are also dancers, choreographers, sculptors, musicians, filmmakers, actors, and painters here, too. The only thing you're supposed to do when you're at Banff is CREATE.
It's an amazing place to find oneself for a week. All of the artists around me are working on something crazy, as if that's a normal thing to be doing. I am surrounded by people who are in the middle of the beautiful and uncertain risk that is a half-formed project that nobody knows about yet.
It's like being in upside-down world: the people here understand that your creative process IS your real work. Imagine living in a society that prioritizes creativity over everything else!
I would love for you to find and register for a retreat or colony so you can work with other writers and artists. The application process can be daunting, but it's worth it. Often, you can also apply for financial assitance to make the trip more accessible.
Check these out:
The Banff Centre Literary Arts Programs
Sage Hill Writing Experience
The Bread Loaf Writers' Conference
Hedgebrook (for women only)
Tin House Summer Writer's Workshop
The MacDowell Colony
Meanwhile, do you have someone to share your half-formed project with right now? Another writer or artist who understands that uncertainty might be the goal, at least at first? That yes, in fact, you would actually like to pursue a life exploring that weird place between knowing and not-knowing?
Sometimes I feel like I'm a crazy person; being around other artists is such a relief.
It can feel alienating when you strive for a creative state of mind in a world that doesn't support it very much. So reach out. Writing is a solitary act, but there are other people out there who are pursuing the same state of mind.
It helps to find other writers and artists - it helps very much. Talk to a songwriter about writing longhand, and what notebooks she uses. Talk to a dancer about how you try to write physical space. Ask a sculptor how he feels about criticism and reviews.
And if you have a writer friend -- oh! You are so lucky! Talk to her all night long.
ps. Do you know about an incredible writers' retreat or colony that I didn't list, above? Please leave a comment and drop the link in there so other readers can learn about it too.
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