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Creative Careers Interviews : 2009 : Kristi Tencarre Interview

Creative Careers in the Arts Interviews

Artist and Photographer
Kristi Tencarre

By Molly Anderson-Childers

Kristi TencarreWelcome back, faithful fans! This month I'll be interviewing Kristi Tencarre, an author, artist and photographer who loves to travel. She visited 51 countries on 5 continents before the age of 30, and now lives in the country under a wide-open sky, surrounded by wheat fields, cattle, horses, and sheep. She's joined me today to discuss how travel influences her art, and how she managed to create again after overcoming a major creative block. Read on to explore the healing power of creativity in Kristi's life, hear her advice for young artists, and more!

Q: You recently attended a "writing spa" — sounds like a fabulous time! Could you tell us more about this event? How was the "writing spa" different from other writing workshops and classes you've attended?

A: The writing spa was only four hours long; other writing workshops I've attended are often a full day, or an entire weekend. At the writing spa, the facilitator made lunch for all of us! Over lunch, we were able to talk casually and build camaraderie. It wasn't the normal 'get in, write, get out' pace, like so many other workshops I've attended. It had a slower pace to it. The facilitator brought in music and the visual arts as writing prompts, which I loved, because that's the way I write at home. I also use music and art in my own writing classes to inspire students to write — it was fun to experience that from the other side of the desk!

Q: Do you have big plans for this summer? Any writing workshops, classes, or events you'd like to share with readers?

A: I wish I could tell you that I have a ton of workshops lined up so that you all could attend, but I'm creating my first baby right now! She's due August 10th, so I've left my summer schedule wide open just in case she comes early! I do plan to begin teaching writing again in the fall or winter, if I can, but I want to give myself time with the baby first and make her a priority.

In the meantime, I plan to keep up with the weekly writing prompts on my blog. Once I get a schedule of workshops set up, I'll post the information to my blog.

Q: Your Creativity Portal article, "Beauties Yet Unborn," is an inspiring read. What beauties do you hope to bring forth from your own treasure-trove in the next year?

A: I'm working on publishing a book for children whose parents are soldiers that have gone off to war. There are few resources out there for these children; this is a need that is not being met. I originally wrote it for the daughter of a friend, who is a soldier.

Q: What do you hope your work will inspire in others?

A: I hope to inspire those who want to write or create art to go for it — to simply start creating. I hope people will fling open their arms to embrace their inherent creativity and throw off the shackles of doubt and fear. The world needs your contributions!

Q: Can you discuss your recent writing workshops in Vancouver? What was the biggest challenge of presenting this event to the public? What was the biggest surprise?

A: It was challenging to plan a workshop when I didn't know how many writers to expect, or how they would react to my ideas and prompts. It was a free event, so I wasn't sure how many would show up. I expected the usual trepidation at the beginning, and hoped that they'd get over their fears and be able to get into writing, which they did. As a teacher, that transition is so exciting and fulfilling to watch!

My biggest surprise was the quality of the writing of one woman in particular. At the beginning of the workshop, she had said she was "so not a writer. " She was able to put some of my suggestions into practice. When she bravely chose to share one of her pieces, I was so happy for her because this door has now been opened to her, and her insight was incredible!

Q: When in crisis, writers often experience a block, or a loss of words. You experienced something similar and wrote about it in "It's All Write." Can you tell our readers more about what caused this loss of words, and how you managed to find your voice again?

A: Difficult life experiences can beat you up, throw you down and taunt you 'til you crawl and stumble your way out of the pit and back up onto your feet. Yet, these are the defining moments in a person's life. They are the moments when you take a step back, away from your day-to-day life, and ask yourself: "Seriously, can I keep living this way?" If you cannot, you must then ask yourself if you can change the situation — or how you can change. Most often, you can only change yourself.

For me, it meant leaving an abusive husband. Abusive situations are tricky because they chip away at your confidence and wear you down, so that you no longer feel like fighting. But when you get truly sick of the crazy-making, you have a choice to make. You have to lay aside some dreams, and fears of becoming a statistic, and focus on your own health and sanity.

In order to survive, I numbed myself. What I was feeling was so intense that I had no words to describe it. That was scary, because I was in a daily habit of writing. I could no longer journal. I couldn't even think of writing stories. After a few months of simply "being," I found my words again through free-form poetry. Poetry can be short and intense with no structure. That was what I needed at that time, and that's how I began writing again.

My family and friends had always known that I wrote and was creative, but I'd been forced to hide it or put it on the back burner for years. However, I discovered that there are people who value me for who I am and respect the time I set aside to create. As I began valuing my time and vocalizing my passions, I found complete acceptance of my true nature. I also made a lot of new creative friends!

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