Dispatch from Portland, Oregon.
I’m writing this from the summer height of the west coast, listening to ravens crank out gravelly calls over the trees and inhaling the candy scent of sun-roasted pine needles.
I came to Portland, Oregon to meet Hannah at the World Domination Summit. If you haven’t heard about it already, WDS is like a small TED conference for activists, dreamers and introverts who ask themselves, "How can I live a remarkable life in a conventional world?"
At WDS, I met brave and creative people who quit their conventional jobs to live what they love: artists, knitters, writers, photographers, chefs, travellers, teachers, and innovators. I helped break a world record, took part in a Bollywood dance mob, and got to meet a few SSMinders in person. The whole experience was truly remarkable.
Being in a group of inspired, adventurous, creative people for three days straight is like living in a parallel reality. It’s a world where doing what you love is non-negotiable. Can you imagine?
The experience reminded me why I've always been excited and determined to do things my own way. Why I’ve always quit my normal day jobs to make time for my writing. Why I fight for the space and time to do what I love the most, even when it isn’t easy.
It reconnected me to the meaning of everything, aka: art, aka: writing, aka: love.
MAKING ART MATTERS.
Doing what you love matters. More than that! Not doing what you love can cause harm – to yourself, to the world. Writers need to write. This is the reason I created the Story Course in the first place. I don’t hear most of the world saying this out loud enough, so I’m going to announce it again:
CREATIVE WRITING IS IMPORTANT.
Hannah, Ryan and I spent an extra week in Portland after the conference for a team retreat, staying in touch with Sarah J online while we spent our days talking and dreaming about what’s next for us, including The Story Intensive.
We got seriously inspired. We drove to Cannon Beach and talked about art, life, creativity, community, doing what we love, inspiring others to do what they love.
Then we got on-fire inspired. We talked about how we are going to on-fire inspire the writers we work with this fall. We made plans that will infuse the Story Intensive with even more life-making, creative, kick-in-the-pants power.
On our last day in Portland we visited the International Rose Test Garden. This is the place where all the roses in the world go to bloom in July. It was here that we wrote down our mission statement. After such an intense week of planning and dreaming, we needed to put some of it in writing, obviously. Writing it down felt like a magic promise, or a vow.
Now we have a compass – this is what guides us in the Story Intensive, and everything else we build together on this website (and off). Here it is:
1. Making art is important.
2. Our writing school inspires us in the same way it inspires our writers.
3. Magic happens.
I wrote these sentences down in a little blank book. Then I surreptitiously plucked three petals from a plush red hybrid named “Thrive” and gave one to Hannah and one to Ryan to seal the deal.
I pressed my petal in a copy of Best American Stories 2012 (purchased at Powell’s – the bookstore that takes up a block).
I read one story every day. Every time I see the petal, I remember: magic happens.
I hope your summer is full of art (both making and consuming it).
I hope your work inspires you, every day.
Most importantly, I hope you see the magic when it happens.
Photo credit (top): Cat Mapper (Max Ogden) on Unsplash.