Revisiting THE ARTIST’S WAY

12 08 2013

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Julia Cameron has made a life out of morning pages, those three pages of brain dump that she encourages everyone to do every morning without fail. In The Artist’s Wayshe starts her journey, to be followed by many more books on the same theme.

Like Natalie Goldman, she says the same things, over and over. And yet…

This first book is rich. It is deep and thoughtful and effective. I haven’t looked at it for years, actually gave it away, until a friend of mine started it recently and I had to go out and buy another copy.

There’s something about the practices of those morning pages, the artist’s date, the examination and thought about creativity that makes you do a bit of growing inside. I recommend it highly to people who are feeling blocked, or uncreative, or sad. It will tow your thoughts to a more expansive location, allow you to feel the joy of creation again, lift your sails. (Marine analogy courtesy of looking out my window at the ocean).

I’m glad I bought a fresh new copy, with none of my old thoughts littering up the pages. I’m different than I was ten or so years ago, my goals are different, the things flying out of my head are different.
I need to wander through them, pick them up like stones on the beach, turn them over, decide if I want to tuck them in my pocket or toss them back into the sea. The Artist’s Way will help me as I wander…

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How do you know when it’s ready?

4 08 2013

41vZycAOEfL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_I’m delighted to report my wonderful, smart, and confident niece has written and self-published her first book and is now marketing it to bookstores in her area, as well as on Amazon. It’s called “Crescent” and I’ll link to it here.

When I first heard about this, though, I was startled to find in my heart a bit of anger. I was frustrated – I don’t have a book yet myself, and yet I’ve been “working” at writing for some time (though procrastination seems to be my main output). The things I do write, people tell me, are good. Why don’t I send them in for publication?

Where does that niece of mine get her confidence? I’ve never ever been that confident in my entire life. Was it my mother’s fault? My English teacher’s fault? (She told me a story I sweated over to write for my parents as a Christmas present was trivial and derivative) (It probably was but I cried buckets writing it and my parents cried even more reading it, so there!) My ex? There must be someone I can blame, surely.

Facebook doesn’t help. Everyone is writing books and books and more books and I am smothering in the weight of all those books published when mine are not.

It’s not like I haven’t been published before  – for a while there I was making a pretty good income from writing. I’ve been on CBC’s Sunday Edition, I’ve got publications in humour, non-fiction, poetry, fiction, even the Oxford Companion to Medicine.

And yet I hesitate. I have turned myself into one of those things I promised myself I would never be, the dilettante writer. The wanna be. The liar.

And so I heap more scorn on myself and freeze myself into even greater immobility. It’s ridiculous, but I can’t seem to stop myself.

Nor can I stop myself from writing.

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
― Dorothy ParkerThe Collected Dorothy Parker

Ah, so true. But there is joy to be had in writing – the joy of seeing things more clearly, of being more present in this world, of delighting in all those other really good books out there (we really don’t need another one, I tell myself in my dark heart…) because we’ve struggled to get things just right ourselves.

I’ve restarted The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron in an attempt to jumpstart my mind, and am working on a few things that have deadlines so that is a good thing. I love deadlines. I’m waiting to hear about a couple of submissions, hoping things go well. I’m doing the 3daynovel thing again this year, working on a mystery plot.

I’m wishing my niece well with her book, which is really quite good and you should all buy it. But that initial anger I felt – I’m hanging on to that, too, because it might just push me over the hump to get my stuff done, too.





Connecting with your inner wild thing

29 07 2013

WildThingEver since I got this darn disease, I’ve been surrounded by people who want me to be careful, take it easy, look after myself, rest. I appreciate their looking out for me, and my friends have graciously supported me and saved me from errors, but it’s the general run of noise from strangers that makes me want to gnash my teeth.

You parents know what I’m talking about. One hint of a baby lump and immediately everyone on the planet knows how better to manage your life, your pregnancy, your parenting, heck, even your breathing.

But inside me, there’s a wild thing trying to get out. Occasionally I do silly things, like put in offers on cottages I well know I would be unable to maintain or afford. Other times I throw myself at projects and such and it all works out okay, even though it doesn’t look like a good thing at the start. I can never predict how things will go.

But if I stop throwing myself at these things (and throwing IS the operative word), I start to lose what makes me, me. A certain insouciance, a devil-may-care attitude, a cheerfulness, a bizarre sense of optimism.

I think a lot of writers share this mind-set – else how could we sit down day after day in a world filled with arguably excellent books and try to put our words together in some sort of way that says something different from what has already been said, a thousand times before? It’s a madness. It takes wilful blindness to the foolishness of our quest.

It takes our wild thing to come out and play.

And who’s to say we won’t write something brilliant and utterly inescapably an addition to the literary canon? Or maybe write an adventure that takes someone out of their nine-to-five lives for a moment and lifts their souls. Or thrills them and sets them off in a new direction? Or frightens the bejesus out of them?

Well, all those nay-sayers will say those things. They’ll tell us to do something else, rest, give up. “Why do you need to write?” they ask.

And that’s when we set our wild things on ’em…

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Connecting to the real writer’s life

27 07 2013

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Ach. I am fed up with myself.

I’ve been a self-described writer for several years now and my publication list is just terrible.

It all started out pretty marvy, with lots of articles published about my silly life, a story published here and there, some entries in various professional publications.

Then I got lost in work, lost the miracle of writing, struggling to prove myself in a serious grown-up venue. MS stopped that for me, and in my heart of hearts, I was a wee bit grateful. I could devote my life to writing now – yay! Infinite writing time (except for the mandatory naps and the various disease challenges) – what’s not to like?

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Well, five years later, I don’t have anywhere near enough to show for it. I’ve entered contests, had some success, but am NOT applying myself, as my mother would say.

I feel like a “writer wanna be” and I hate it. So I’m setting myself some goals.

It’s time to trust in what I can do, take it on, send stuff out, put on my big writer panties and get out there. Because regrets suck.

I’m taking a page out of Edith Piaf’s songbook…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Kvu6Kgp88





Connecting to your inner gruntle

20 07 2013

resized_disgruntledGrrrr.

I am feeling distinctly disgruntled and I seriously need some gruntling.

You know that feeling where you start to have hope, just a wee bit, that something in your life might develop into something interesting…

and then it doesn’t?

Or you start looking out for new opportunities and fun…

And can’t find them? Or they seem askew somehow?

Or you do all you can to be charming and lovely and kind and caring and supportive…

and it’s taken as due, no special thanks required? (Not referring to you, TC, if you are reading this)

Well, that leads to disgruntlement, in my experience.  Displeased, peevish, sulky.

So I need gruntlement when that happens – a good laugh with friends, support from my gal pals, a good book, a better writing session, a hangout with creativity in some way.

Usually, that’s all it takes for me to become gruntled again. Tomorrow I’m off exploring an island I’ve never seen before.

I sense gruntlement ahead. Picnic-logo-FINAL





The joys of connecting to inspiration

17 07 2013

Back when my kids were little, I homeschooled them for a year. It was a magical time for me as a parent. My middle son was just learning to read, and in the space of a few weeks he’d had that “aha!” phenomenon happen where suddenly the squiggles on the page became the story. The joy on his face was palpable. I was so honoured to be able to see it happen, to see the words and letters take hold, to watch that huge moment of discovery.
I envy teachers this.
Likewise, I’ve been around to see others get that sudden grasp of a thought or a spurt of creativity or that lightning bolt of an idea – it’s fantastic to watch it slip across their faces, to hear the lilt in their voices, the utter soul-screaming joy of it all.
It’s infectious.
They share their happiness, and I want to rub up against it, stick some of the loose bits onto my self, put the glow on me, while never diminishing theirs.
It’s absolutely fabulous.
And such a blessing to be a part of it as it happens, cheering on from the sidelines!





Serendipitous Connections

2 07 2013

 

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I’m all grown up now, no kids to tow to rugby games or class performances , no parent-teacher lineups or other shared parental volunteer activities to set up friendships with other grown ups. It used to be easy to meet new folks – we were doing the same things at the same time, our kids hung out together, we got to know each other over backyard BBQs and such.

We could hide behind our kids to get us out of bad friendships or conversations or activities. We could meet people we wanted to without seeming creepy or forward. It was all so easy back then.

Now that’s all gone. I meet a few people through my kids but most of the time we travel in very different circles.

So I have to make new connections, and that’s tougher. I was blessed in that I was married to a military guy for years, whose modus operandi was to move me away from everyone I knew and then abandon me and go to work. It was the best thing to ever happen to a gal like me, who was able to fake it til I made it, but who spent a fair bit of her time humming “Whistle a Happy Tune” under her breath.

So I learned to get out there, talk to strangers (and even strangers), join things, keep busy. I took up strange interests – pottery, ukulele, volunteer stuff, writing – in the hope that I’d meet interesting people. I signed up for classes and pretended to study. I joined dating sites and chatted with many many strange men (and some lovely ones). I met people.

But often the connections are so happenstance they are unpredictable. One of my best gal pals I worked with years ago, only to find she’d moved to NS and was living a block away from where I’d moved to – I would never have found her save for a political event attended by her minister, where we got to chatting…

And my other BFF is a lass I met at a ukulele concert – we happened to sit beside one other, got talking about the Halifax Ukulele Gang, both decided we wanted to go, and we’ve been friends ever since.

It’s serendipitous and wonderful, miribilia, as Rob Brezsny would say.

And now threads fly out from me to all those places where I once was, where I have left friends and family, connecting me to people around the globe. Some of those threads are thin and worn, but so many of them hum brightly when I touch them, making me feel supported and part of that ineffable something bigger.

I still sing that song, though. But that’s a topic for another day.

 








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