Dreaming up InkWell

Nelson turned out to be a fabulous place to work on another draft of my manuscript. I developed a routine: wake up around 9 a.m. and answer emails. Eat breakfast. Write. Eat lunch. Shower. Walk to Oso Negro to keep working or, if it was too hot to work indoors, down to the beach for a swim in Kootenay Lake. In the evenings, I'd switch modes and work on a new project that's extremely close to my heart: InkWell Workshops.

Along with my brilliant friend Eufemia Fantetti, I had been dreaming up a way to teach creative writing workshops to people with mental health and addictions issues for a while. In the spring, after I'd scored the teaching gig at the University of Guelph, we started putting our plan into action. What makes InkWell unique—as far as we know, it's the only program of its kind—is that all of our intructors have lived experience of mental illness.

InkWell is special to me because it combines so many of my passions: teaching, writing, social justice, and building community, all while battling stigma. It's empowering to think that my lived experience of depression gives me something valuable to contribute to the community. Not because I'm in a position to help "marginalized people," but because through helping others like me, I believe that I can help myself. You can read more about our plans for InkWell here.

In Nelson, I worked long hours on our grant application to the Toronto Arts Council. I spent a lot of time on the phone with Eufemia and with our amazing community partners at the Canadian Mental Health Association, Toronto Branch. And, finally, the application came together, clocking in at 50 pages. We haven't found out the results yet, so keep your fingers crossed!

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