Artcroft, here I come

Tomorrow I am flying to Kentucky. On July 1st I begin a creative residency at Artcroft in Carlisle, KY. This is an incredible opportunity for which I am incredibly grateful. Not only does this residency provide a supportive environment for me to write, but affirms my writing practice. The good people at Artcroft believe in me, believe I am a writer and value my creative endeavour. I feel very happy about this new adventure.

My project for the month long residency is a novel. Writing a long work is uniquely challenging. I’ve done it once before in 2006 when I began writing my MFA thesis. Up until that point I had written short stories only, and writing a novel was an invaluable learning process. The most important thing I learned was that I could do it. I could write everyday on an extended narrative.

The last couple of months I’ve been applying some of the lessons I learned from that project. Outlines help me. I’ve outlined the first two parts and left the conclusion open. I think that comes from a remark Stephen King made about not knowing the end of his stories until he writes them. It works.

Along with the outline I’ve sketched a plan for each section. These sketches will serve as daily writing prompts. Along with notes about how the plot should move, I’ve also included notes on vocabulary, theme, and some inspirational quotes. The idea is that if (when) I get stuck, there will be something in my notes to give me a jump start.

I’m also bringing The Zen of Creativity by John Daido Loori Roshi. I am reading this book as an extension of a zen intensive Loori Roshi led at Naropa Boulder in 2007. Many of the anecdotes and teachings in the book are similar to what was taught during that weekend. This summer I will further explore these contemplative practices as I undertake this new writing project.

“We spend our time preoccupied with the past, which doesn’t exist -it’s already happened. Or we are preoccupied with the future. It too doesn’t exist -it hasn’t happened yet. As a result, we miss the moment-to-moment awareness of our life and barely notice its passing.”
p.55 The Zen of Creativity by John Daido Loori Roshi

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