this Saturday September 6th, and other dates this fall as well.
If the writer in you is feeling neglected, if you need a day away to concentrate on your writing project, if you are working on a project but feeling a bit stuck, or if you want to write but don’t know where to start, a one-day Sanctuary Writer’s Retreat may be just what you need: a day of bum-in-chair, support from other writers, and a nurturing, no-excuses environment, where everything is looked after and all you need to do is write!
At a Sanctuary, we begin at 10:00 a.m. Writers are welcome to arrive a few minutes early to settle in, grab a coffee or tea, and muffin or some fruit and chat with the others.
The morning is spent doing a series of on-the-spot timed writing exercises to stretch those stiff writing muscles and get the creative writer in you feeling more relaxed, focused and perhaps even a little experimental.
After the delicious lunch (provided) the afternoons are spent in silent communion with other writers, working either on a computer or by hand on whatever project is preoccupying you as a writer these days. If you don’t have a laptop but want to work on a keyboard, you will be provided with a computer. Your Word file can be emailed to you at the end of the day.
Uplands is in a peaceful rural location, so you are also welcome to go out for a walk on quiet country lanes if you need a break. There’s even a couch or two if you need your afternoon nap for half an hour to wake up refreshed and ready to write some more!
Writing is over at 4:00 p.m. for those who need to get home, but if you wish to stay, there will be an opportunity to sit a while longer, to share some of what you’ve been working on and to debrief, discuss issues of craft, etc. The day is finished by around 5:00.
In this Post:
- August 7 – 10: The Sebright Residential Sanctuary
- August to December – Writers’ Sanctuaries in Durham Region
- September 2014 – August 2015 – A Novel Approach – Year Long Courses to get your book done
- October 19 – A Single day of SoulCollage
- September – December – The Artist’s Way
- September – December – Pen In Hand, Ink on Page
- April 2015 – ITALY – Radical Restoration
- 2015 – SoulCollage and Writing in Amherst with Pat Schneider 2015
- Ongoing: Working on my licensing as a Registered Psychotherapist
Writer Heal Thyself: My Shame Confession
I have been meaning to send out this notice about what’s coming up in the next few months for the last 60 days – ever since we got home from Italy. Every day when I get up I promise myself that I am going to get it out TODAY. And then the work I have promised to other people somehow jostles itself to the front of the line, and by evening I think, “Oh well, I’ll do it tomorrow.”
What is it about many writers (and self-employed business people) that makes it so difficult to put ourselves first? (at least some of the time) What makes it so difficult to get to our own writing, or to promote ourselves?
In a word? Anxiety – probably the least acknowledged and most prevalent human emotion.
I know so many of my colleagues who, like me, support others in achieving their goals, but rarely get around to sending out their own work to contests, or to finish their books. I’m one of the worst examples of this. Case in point: months ago someone who heard my poetry feature at the ArtBar suggested I query my poetry manuscript to a prestigious literary publisher here in Canada. After much hemming and hawing, and months of delay, I did so.
This is really a huge good news/bad news story. The good news is that within 15 days, the editor got back to me and asked to see the rest of the manuscript. Right away. The bad news is that my manuscript is not ready. I have about 40 poems polished and ready to go. The rest are still in long-hand in my journals, interspersed with the writing of my two memoirs and two novels.
For weeks I felt a bit sick about it. I spend so much time helping, editing and encouraging other writers (and that is work that I adore and find immensely satisfying). But what is wrong with me that I don’t do a better job of balancing my own artistic output with my mentoring others? Why haven’t I been taking my own writing seriously enough to have my manuscript ready to go?
Two weeks ago I co-led a workshop in Amherst with the magnificent Pat Schneider, author of How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice. I left for Amherst carrying the weight of this with me. While I was down there, I created a SoulCollage card about the whole situation and wrote about it. (you can see it and read about it here if you’re interested.)
As someone who works with many, many writers, I know that wrestling with artistic resistance is common. But I do a lot of teaching; I facilitate a lot of writing groups and classes. When I confess how hard all of this is for me every day, the writers who write with me often express their astonishment. “You? It’s hard for YOU?”
Yes. It’s agonizing. And I feel incredibly vulnerable writing about it.
I’ve been reading Dr. Brene Brown’s work on Shame and how we createShame Resilience. I highly recommend her book I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t). Dr. Brown cites 4 different ways we can ameliorate the negative outcomes of shame and promote shame resilience, and this post encompasses two of them: Reaching Out and Speaking Shame.
I know I’m not the only one. So:
- If you flush with shame every time someone asks “How’s your writing going?”
- if you’re one of those writers who thinks you don’t measure up because you “don’t write every day”
- if you’re one of those writers who hears the sound of deadlines whooshing by your ears far too often
- or if you’re one of those writers who is so overwhelmed by your day to day existence, trying to get your “real” work done and fulfill your obligations to family and friends, that you rarely find the time to cuddle your Muse
… I’m standing in solidarity with you and telling you, you are a real writer, and you’re absolutely not alone.
And, having had this wake-up call from the publisher about my own art, I’ve developed several strategies to combat my artistic anxiety and get my work as a writer and a teacher out there more steadily. Some of these strategies are listed in my upcoming events, workshops, etc.
Upcoming Retreats and Workshops:
Several years ago, after a particularly wonderful Writers’ Sanctuary, the participants laughingly rebelled and announced they weren’t going home. They wanted “a Sanctuary pyjama party”. And thus the Sebright weekend residential Sanctuary was born. This year the retreat begins Thursday evening August 7th and goes until Sunday afternoon. There is still ONE space available if you’re longing for 3 days away to support your writerly process. Go HERE to see more information and to register.
I don’t usually lead Writers’ Sanctuaries in the months of July and August, but this year our new location is so heavenly we don’t want to be anywhere else! Consequently, there is a Writers’ Sanctuary on August 23rd that still has some space in it; there are also some dates in the fall that have room for writers. Writers’ Sanctuaries are one day retreats to support creating new material as well as silent focus on whatever project you’re engaged in at the moment. They happen in our beautiful wild location 20 minutes north of Whitby. You can see all the dates HERE, and register here as well.
For 5 years, James and I have been leading A Novel Approach – a one year course for producing your book length fiction project or book length memoir. Until now, we have been starting in January and going to December. But this year we decided to change the course so it begins in September (back to school! Yay!) and goes from there. We have also added A Novel Approach Second Draft to help authors who have finished a book length first draft and now need to craft it into a finished manuscript ready for sending out to agents and publishers or for self-publishing.
I love the work I do with writers in the expanse of a year and I’m always enthralled to see the changes that happen for them both personally and in terms of their craft as writers when they devote themselves to their books over the course of a year. Many of our authors have gone on to publication both traditionally and through self-publication after this course. If you’re longing to commit to a long project, check out the options HERE, including the Online version of the 1 year first draft course.
(Both James and I will be active participants in A Novel Approach Second Draft. We’re both looking forward to polishing up our novels in the company of other like-minded authors!)
Some of you have asked about SoulCollage this fall. I’m not teaching any long courses, but I will be doing a one day workshop at Blue Heron Studio on October 19th. You can register for it HERE.
I am so excited to be teaching this 12 week course (over two 6 week sessions). Twenty two years ago, as a young mother, I organized a group to make our way through Julia Cameron’s classic program for artistic self-recovery.
People sometimes make comments on how lucky I am to have the life I do (and I am grateful for it every day I promise!). I put a lot of credit for the life I lead on the work I did back then using Cameron’s ideas.
If you (like me) struggle with producing your art and claiming the life you want for yourself, give yourself the gift of commitment for these 12 weeks this fall. I will be engaging with the work of wrestling with my own artistic anxiety, and am so looking forward to facilitating this group. You can read more about it and register HERE on the Blue Heron website.
I will be facilitating the Pen in Hand, Ink on Page (and bum in seat!) class at Blue Heron Studio again this fall. This course is made for people like me who need scheduled, committed time to produce their own work. The time has been moved to Friday mornings from 9:30 to noon. You can read more about it and register HERE.
In April of this year we did our first Radical Restoration Yoga and Writing Retreat in Italy. It was fantastic. Mornings of gentle and self-compassionate yoga under the superlative facilitation of Esana Lotfy and facilitated writing in a group, magnificent food, and afternoons spent relaxing, hiking, writing, napping and exploring the surrounding towns of Assisi, Gubbio and Perugia.
It was so fantastic we’re going back next year. The dates are already on the website HERE.
I just got back from doing a combined SoulCollage and Writing workshop co-led by Pat Schneider. Again, it was such a success that we’re talking about doing it next year. Pat has done a blog about it and there are some pictures at this location HERE. Also, there’s a link there to be notified when we decide on next year’s dates.
Sue Reynolds, Psychotherapist (in the supervision phase of obtaining my license)
As you may or may not know, I have been working on getting my registered Psychotherapist designation for some time. I am currently under supervision, which means that my education is mostly finished but I need to work through a designated number of “currency hours” in practice. I offer therapy sessions, but I have an experienced clinical supervisor that I report to.
Because I am in this phase of getting my license, my hourly rates are very reasonable. If you know of someone who would benefit from therapeutic counselling you are welcome to have them contact me.
Recommended Courses: What I’ve Been Up To As A Student
I often recommend that my students and workshop participants try working with other teachers. I have had the incredible good fortune to work with a number of very gifted teachers over my career and each of them has taught me something that has expanded my craft as a writer.
This past spring I did a six week poetry course with Jacob Scheier: Writing about Grief (some of that work was in the query I sent the poetry editor). Jacob is the winner of a 2008 Governor General’s Award for poetry and he is offering two days of Writing about Grief on Saturday, August 16th, Personal Narrative: 11-5 pm and Sunday August 17th, Poetry: 11-5 pm
He will also be offering a longer version of Writing about Grief in the fall.
I’ve also been working on my next novel through Sherry Coman’s online workshop Getting Emotional: overturning the traditional story-first method of writing development. I’ve worked with Sherry before – she’s an insightful and generous teacher. If you want to contact her to be put on her list to notify you when she’s next offering the course, you can reach her at email@example.com
I subscribe to The Writers’ Almanac Poem a Day and every morning look forward to starting out with a coffee and a poem.
A couple of years ago I woke up to the poem “Bounty” by Robyn Sarah. I’ve just learned that the publisher Porcupine’s Quill is reissuing the book of poetry it came from: A Day’s Grace. I think that’s so remarkable that it’s worth mentioning here, congratulating Robyn, and recommending the book. I love Robyn’s work – steeped as it is in being present. You can read more of her poetry at The Writers Almanac HERE.
Upcoming Contests and Submission Deadlines
July 31 – PRIME Poetry Contest
July 31 – InkTears Flash Fiction Competition 2014
August 1 – Alice Munro Festival Short Story Competition
August 5 – the John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award
August 8 – Taddle Creek The Childhood Issue
August 31 – Cultural Weekly’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest
September 30 – The Thomas Morton Memorial Prize
September 30 – Scugog Council for the Arts Literary Contest
NOTE: In SoulCollage, after one has created the image, there are a number of ways to deepen the process by writing about it. We begin by letting the image “speak” for itself beginning each sentence with the words “I am the One”.
I am the one whose wings have been replaced by a hundred hands held out for help.
I am the one who is seduced by providing help to those hands – both because of the immediate pleasure and gratification in being able to help and in being able to solve a problem, and also because doing so provides my living.
I am the one who ignores my own deep art to answer the call of another’s need.
The truth is that I am so anxious about my own abilities as an artist that it’s easier to turn my face away from my own art. The truth is I am ashamed of how I betray my inner artist over and over again. The truth is, I have been asked for my poetry manuscript by a serious literary publisher—and I do not have a manuscript ready because I have not been balancing taking other people’s art seriously with taking my own art seriously.
The truth is, I have been struggling with this same issue all my adult life, and I have never found a long term solution for it. The truth is I am a binge writer – when I carve out a week of retreat or a workshop, I produce like crazy, but I have never given myself the regular time and space I need for steady progress on my own projects.
I blame my partner for this. I blame my work for this. But the truth is, it is entirely my fault. If I believed in myself as a writer and as an artist, if I burned with passion for my own projects, I would not be flapping here, wounded, with just one wing.
When I ask the image, “What do you have to give me?” It answers:
I give you a visual reminder of the beauty of your own ink. I remind you that no one has your thumbprint, your fingerprint, and that no one else can replicate what comes out of your fingers. I give you the bloom of shame and remorse that happened in your belly as you were assembling my elements and creating me, and the ache in your chest now as you look at me.
When I ask the image, “What do you want from me?” It answers:
I want from you the same thing you have wanted from yourself all this time, all these years. A commitment to follow through on your own projects, to make time to do your own work, the work that matters to you as an artist. Just for its own sake, To dream the dream of creativity without worrying about publication, without worrying about the outcome. For its own sweet sake. For your Soul’s sake.
July 17 to 20, 2014
Thursday evening, 7:00 p.m., to Sunday afternoon, 1:00 p.m.
All meals and SoulCollage supplies.
Accomodations are extra; a list of local places to stay will be provided upon request.
SoulCollage is a creative, fun tool for easy, intuitive, artful Self-exploration and Self-expression. It is an artistic, creative process that is accessible to everyone, even those people who believe they have no artistic ability.
Using imagination and intuition, participants create their own decks of collaged cards representing significant aspects of their lives. And they do all this from simple materials: magazine images, photographs, scissors, glue, and heavy card.
Once an individual SoulCollage card has been created, participants are invited to step deeper into each card through journalling, visualization and other activities.
Teachers, therapists, and people all over the world use this powerful process in workshops and psychotherapy, classrooms, retreats, and coaching sessions (to name a few). There are more than 1200 trained SoulCollage Facilitators worldwide.
The weekend in Amherst will begin on Thursday night with a gathering at Pat Schneider‘s home. Participants will be introduced to the SoulCollage process and begin their engagement through writing through images.
The schedule for Friday and Saturday will be the same for both days: we will gather in a local church hall to work on our own decks of cards.
Lessons about the SoulCollage process, as well as some visualization techniques, will be woven in with times of creative collage. In the evenings, after dinner, participants will gather again in Pat Schneider’s home to deepen the process through writing exercises.
Our final meeting will be at Pat’s home on Sunday morning where we will experience how the process can be expanded through dialogue with the images we have created, and will end with a witnessing exercise and a celebratory lunch.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Sue through the form on this website.
Cost: $950 (includes meals but not accomodation – suggestions for accomodation provided upon request.)
A 50% deposit is required to secure your place in the workshop.
Please fill out the form below to register.
PLEASE REGISTER ME FOR THE SOULCOLLAGE WEEKEND WITH PAT SCHNEIDER AND SUE REYNOLDS
Cancellation must be done a minimum of thirty days in advance for a refund (minus a $100 administration fee).
Your registration is transferable if you find someone to take your place. If you have to cancel with less than thirty days notice and we are able to fill your spot, your registration fee can be refunded (minus the $100 administration fee).
If your spot cannot be filled, unfortunately no refunds can be made.
In this Post:
- Blue Heron Writing Classes starting March 7
- Blue Heron SoulCollage Course startingMarch 9
- and a SoulCollage weekend with PatSchneider and me in Amherst Massachusetts in July
- Writing in ITALY April 2014
- 2014 Writers’ Sanctuary and PoetrySanctuary
- Some courses for the Fall 2014 and beyond, and
- A couple of Memoir-oriented contest deadlines coming up this month