Dispatch from Portland, Oregon.

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 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?" Bollywood Joy 

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.

Sarah and Hannah beach hugHannah, 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.



Portland Roses

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.

xoxo,

Sarah” width=


Photo credit (top): Cat Mapper (Max Ogden) on Unsplash.

Photo credit (Sarah dancing): Joshua SeamanArmosa Studios.


Be grateful for your crazy, active mind.
Do you have too much discipline? Writing and OCD.

17 comments

Hi Sarah! I live in Portland, OR (not too far from the Rose Test Garden). I, too, find this city to be incredibly inspiring - even on my most uninspired days, I can still manage to feel the creative tug every time I take a stroll through my neighborhood. Portland is a writer's haven, and I hope other people come here for retreat, inspiration, or just curiosity. I'm glad you had the chance to visit our fine city, and I do hope you will be back again! -A fellow writer, who gave up everything to pursue the life she loved.
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Kristin Offiler

Magic happens. Creative writing is important. I just love everything about this post with every bone and cell in my body. Thank you, Sarah. xo
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I wish we would have floated next to each other or Bollywood dance partied shoulder to shoulder or just plain bumped into one another! Maybe next year. So happy you enjoyed WDS and our little pocket of the Northwest. Blessings to you!
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I visited Oregon when I was in high school, and thought it was the most beautiful place ever. I am glad it was so inspirational for you, Ryan and Hannah. When I think of the creative value Story is a State of Mind has added to my life....I am so excited for what happens next! How fortunate we all are to have have found this creative space.
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Nerys Parry

I'm so happy to see you doing wonderful, crazy and INSPIRED things with your life Sarah! You have always been uncompromising in the most loving way. Best of luck with your intensive course this fall. I'm finally off work myself and ready to tackle the next book and teach my first local writer's course, so your post has inspired me to believe and take the time to dream it into reality. All the best, Nerys
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I just heard about WDS this year and sooo want to attend next year. This post was inspiring to me. Thanks for sharing it!
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Sarah Selecky

Sarah! I'm definitely coming back! It's one of my favourite cities in the world. xo S
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Sarah Selecky

Kristin: xoxo.
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Sarah Selecky

Morgan: I'll meet you at the dance party next year! xo S
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Sarah Selecky

Thank you, Mary. xo S
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Sarah Selecky

Thank you, Nerys! Huge congratulations on your past year. And I'm so happy to hear you've been able to get off work. Lucky writers who get to work with you! Keep me posted. xo S
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"It's a world where doing what you love is non-negotiable" ... thanks for sharing this piece of energized-up inspiration. I was also on Saltspring yesterday - we ended our mini-holiday with my summer bucket list item of sticky camp-fire S'mores for lunch - my littles had melted chocolate and marshmellows on every inch of themselves! Happy writing on that gem of an island.
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Aloha Sarah, I've been reading your blog for a wee while now and figured it was high time to stop being a stalker and say hello. I enjoy your writing and your offerings. I especially enjoyed hearing you rave about Portland (Powell's is the best!) and it was lovely to see your photo of you and your friend in front of Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach as these places are my old stomping grounds. Making art IS important. Thank you for stating what (to me) is so damn obvious, but I often forget. One can never have enough reminders that our art is not only important, it's needed. For ourselves. For others. For the world. Cheers! Lisa
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Sarah Selecky

Ooh - Cyd, maybe I'll see you there in 2014!
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Sarah Selecky

It's a magical place indeed. And now I want chocolate. Thank you, Jennifer!
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Sarah Selecky

Aloha, Lisa! Thanks for this. I know, I need to be reminded, too. Even though I know it to be true, it's feels so good to find ways to remember it every day. I watched Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk yesterday - on creativity and why it's important - and remembered, again. We need art. We need art. xo, Sarah
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Derek Murphy

Just found your site through Paul Jarvis, love what you're doing; I was at WDS too, also very inspired by it and still fired up with my projects.
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