A retreat space for aspiring writers and creators
From stage to page, Catrina Sparkman’s work has always been a reflection of where she was in her life. With her lived experiences serving as the muse for several of her works of fiction and nonfiction, she believed that purposeful works of art can bring about representation and inspire people.
Sparkman recognized the power the media and arts have to amplify the voices of marginalized groups of people, especially those with uplifting messages, through her time as a playwright. With overwhelming support from the community, Sparkman established her first theater company to help students of color at UW- Madison get casted in plays. This tuning point blossomed a larger mission to support aspiring writers and creators in creating opportunities to get their powerful messages out into the world.
Sparkman is the Artistic Director of The Creator’s Cottage, a maker studio space that invites writers and creators all over the country in various stages of their careers to stretch their creativity in an immersive, instructive, and distraction-free environment. While there are a few public opportunities, the Creator’s Cottage is run on a membership basis.
The “Exploring Artist” plan offers virtual and in-person instruction to help women discover their own channels for creative expression. Features include access to the writer’s cafe, fiber arts studio, and even the chance to purchase books that are published through their publishing company, The Ironer’s Press.
“The Creator’s Cottage is the space where all of the parts of me get to converge.” Sparkman is a multidisciplinary creator. While she’s always had an innate flair for writing, she believed her ability to engage other creative mediums is what kept her inspired in her writing career. She took her passion for energizing her community beyond the pages when she became the passionate owner of an organic skin products line.
“I actually started my own soap company because I had writer’s block that lasted a very long time,” Sparkman said. “I needed to do something else that was creative that would take me out of the writing space and cause me to learn something different.”
Her organic soaps made with a unique blend of ingredients and essential oils was another way for her to explore the realms of her creativity and support the development and maintenance of various programs that the Creator’s Cottage has to offer.
As she reflected on her journey as a writer and the role that exploring multiple creative outlets has had on her career, Sparkman was able to identify what it takes to become a serious writer who captivates their readers.
“Serious writers have to understand what makes a story, a story” Catrina said “ …all stories have crucial elements. If you can understand those elements, you can play with it, and build something that will attract your reader and have them hold on to it.”
A new and exciting program that the Creator’s Cottage has introduced is “StoryLab.” This program is intended for writers and creators of all genres to do a deeper dive into the art of storytelling to help them improve their writing skills in their prospective genre of choice.