Sunday Sunday… a cloudy Sunday, sitting by the fire, mulling over this week’s “work” in The Artist’s Way.
Week 7 is all about connecting to our own, very personal, dreams. Julia breaks the chapter up into sections on: Listening, Perfectionism, Risk and Jealousy. With an exercise on creating a Jealousy Map and one called Archeology that helps us take a look back at some things we may have missed or lacked as a child (Past) and a closer look at our abundant wonderfilled Present.
Here we go…
Hmmm…. my PLAN for my artist date was to rebuild my compass necklace. I got my beads and jewellery making stuff out of storage but haven’t gotten around to fixing the necklace.
Truth is… I forgot to set a date with my artist. I got all cocky and didn’t set a specific time aside and… no date.
Good to know.
These dates are important. And I very much want to make them a part of my week.
A most excellent and delicious example of synchronicity for me this week.
I have a desire to bring more poetry into my life. I keep books … beside the bed, in the writing burrow, in the outhouse… anywhere I might pick up on to read. I’ve also been playing with the POETRY APP (created by the poetry foundation) on my tablet – it lets me SPIN out a selection of poems to read on the go.
The other day… I SPUN out this amazing poem…
“I Am Not I”
BY JUAN RAMÓN JIMÉNEZ
TRANSLATED BY ROBERT BLY
I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.
It was my first exposure to Juan Ramón Jiménez.
The next day… one of my wonderful SpiritWalker cohorts sent me the following words…
“I was reminded of one of my favourite poems by Juan Ramón Jiménez, when you talked about running too fast, diving too deep…:
Don’t run, go slowly,
it is only to yourself that you have to go!
Go slowly, don’t run,
for the child of yourself, just born
cannot follow you.
I love BOTH poems and now I have a new poet who’s work I look forward to exploring. YAY!
The universe is so wonderful.
So it goes.
Sometimes, as I begin a new chapter in TAW, I think… Ya ya… I know this already! And then… I realize that I don’t really KNOW stuff at all at all.
Like…. for instance….
Art is not about thinking something up. It is about the opposite—getting something down.
If we are trying to think something up, we are straining to reach for something that’s just beyond our grasp, “Up there in the stratosphere, where art lives on high….”
When we get something down, there is no strain. We’re not doing: we’re getting. Someone or something else is doing the doing. Instead of reaching for inventions, we are engaged in listening.
We are more the conduit than the creator of what we express.
OK… so that’s a big chunk to take in. And there is a lot within this chunk for me to unpack for myself.
First off, I am slowly coming around to this idea of listening… of not striving so much to invent something, come UP with something clever or wise or whatever, but just… showing up… doing the work and trusting. But man, it’s hard.
I guess I have to face up to the fact that I think I am a pretty smart cookie, and that I HAVE “made things up”… and pretty good things too.
Though I have been blessed by that thing we call “flow” it is… oh it is so RARE for me and in the meantime… a girl has to keep working.
I can so so SO easily forget that all the sweaty work in the trenches is … not really the… magic thing. It allows the magic thing… but it is not the source of the magic.
I need to remember that … my job is to show up every day and do my very best work and as I create… I listen… and I am led.
I have been writing this sentence over and over since I started working through TAW.
Could it be that it is finally starting to sink in?
I need to show up, roll up my sleeves and begin. Annnnnd…. Not forget to breathe and listen and allow. That is all.
Sounds so simple.
Is so simple.
And incredibly hard for this one to do.
Second revelation from the quote – is…. that I really do think ART lives up there, somewhere on high.
Though the things that touch me and move me are NOT high-falutin. They are simple, honest things. And though I know danged well that the THING that makes me go, “Oh. Yes. Right. THAT is what it means to be a human.” That THING isn’t from up on high. That THING is… from living. From a human living in a body on this earth in their time and simply trying to show me what that feels like.
It’s Terry Temperance Williams telling me about her mother’s journals in her beautiful book- When Women Were Birds. It’s Harper Lee bringing me Boo Radley and Scout and Atticus and, through them, teaching me about honour and singing me a love letter to her father in To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s Bronwen Wallace offering up what it means to be a friend in People You’d Trust Your Life To.
I get this. I do.
I get that ART is in the… truth of the work and that the truth that truly reaches us all is from… inside of the artist creating the work and also… from something… universal, that we as artists can tap into (on those good good days).
I looooooonnnnng to be a conduit.
And in moments, I am.
In the other hours, days, weeks and months — I am more like a hard rock miner.
Least that’s how I feel… mostly.
I’m not sure if any of this makes sense to anyone but myself.
Ah well… Let’s keep going…
Once you accept that it is natural to create, you can begin to accept a second idea—that the creator will hand you whatever you need for the project.
…there is a second voice, a higher harmonic, adding to and augmenting your inner creative voice. This voice frequently shows itself in synchronicity.
A-HA… I might have just figured something out.
See, I still harbour this old old ancient belief that … creating is taboo. That there are stories that must never be told. That the very act of creation will lead… holy heck, yeah… that the very act of creating—of writing especially—could very well lead to my death.
I know that sounds totally Drama Queen Time—but… Hand to my heart, it is what my deep down renegade scribbler believes. That every time she takes that pen in hand, she is smashing the silence.
And if that is what I really think… how on earth can I believe that GOD will … help me?
How can I …
…accept the possibility that the universe is helping you with what you are doing.
I mean that’s crazy, right?
Here’s what Julia says…
Try to remember that God is the Great Artist. Artists like other artists.
OK… I know some artists… do they like each other? Mostly. Some have jealousies or rivalries. But the ones that I think are truly TRULY doing the work they are meant to be doing… are always incredibly interested and supportive of other artists and their work. And I even know why— because they know that there is room for everyone and that each of us brings our own thing. We aren’t really in competition with each other.
No one can “write my book” or truly “steal my idea” — it’s impossible.
I can miss the boat though.
I’ve had that happen a few times. Some “idea” comes to me, and I don’t run with it, or I run a little way and then get distracted and… a few months (or years) later… BOOM! There it is — in a book, on stage or screen. I was too slow (my hugest fear), or I was too afraid (that sounds more like it).
They’ll never create what I would’ve created with the nugget, but it’s similar enough for me to firmly slap my palm against my forehead even as I rise to my feet to applaud them.
Well…. here’s a good quote to fend off some of those fears of mine….
Do not fear mistakes, There are none. ~ Miles Davis
And here’s a some lil ditties that will make those of you who have been following my progress on the new book TITTER…
For the perfectionist, there are no first drafts, rough sketches, warm up exercises. Every draft is meant to be final, perfect, set in stone.
Midway through a project, the perfectionist decides to read it all over, outline it, see where it’s going.
And where is it going? Nowhere, very fast.
Again… I say, “Julia, get out of my HOUSE!”
This is totally what I have been doing with Sanctuary. I DID get to the end of a first draft. FINALLY. And then I started on the second draft and then I stopped… and decided to go through and timeline the whole thing to … uh yeah… see where it was going … and then I started again… great! But… I keep stopping and backing up and backing up and backing up and … and… and Julia goes on to say….
A book is never finished. But at a certain point you stop writing it and go on to the next thing.
That is a normal part of creativity—letting go. We always do the best that we can by the light we have to see by.
I have a touch of trouble with the letting go thing.
I love that last line so much, I’m gonna repeat it.
We always do the best that we can by the light we have to see by.
Julia then goes on to talk about risk. Not about the risk I was talking about earlier… not about how just the act of CREATION can be seen as a risk. She is talking about about the risk of not being perfect, and about the true cost of playing it safe.
…safety is a very expensive illusion.
Yes. Yes, it is.
Once we are willing to accept that anything worth doing might even be worth doing badly our options widen. “If I didn’t have to do it perfectly I would try…”
Oh, what would you try?
What WOULDN’T we try, eh?
Then she takes a look at jealousy and how it can be a map for us. How, often, her own Jealousy was a mask for fear.
My jealousy had actually been a mask for my fear of doing something I really wanted to do but was not yet brave enough to take action toward.
It’s interesting to look at jealousy in this way. Who are we jealous of and why?
She has a great exercise that she calls The Jealousy Map where you make three columns…
To Make a Jealousy Map…
In the first column, name those whom you are jealous of.
Next to each name write why. Be as specific and accurate as you can.
In the third column, list one action you can take to move toward creative risk and out of jealousy.
I did this exercise, and I found it really difficult. I think it was the word JEALOUSY…
So I switched it up to…
Who do you ADMIRE and why — and what is one simple action that you can take towards that which you admire in them?
That worked a bit better for me.
The final section of the chapter deals with doing some digging in our pasts— taking a look at things we missed or lost or needed and never got as kids.
Thankfully, Julia doesn’t leave us wallowing in our “lacks” — she finishes up on a positive note, having us take stock of the good things we have to build on in the present.
I enjoyed this week – though i didn’t feel that I really dove in to the tasks… and “forgetting” to schedule my Artist Date… not so cool.
I shall strengthen my determination for the coming week.
The thing that I am still gnawing on is… this connection to the Creator in our work. And to finding my own balance between the Craft of Writing and the Free Flow of what I tend to call “wild mind”.
I believe that I need BOTH in my work.
I need to be there to let the wild flow come through me – and I also need to craft that material into a complete WHOLE. So that it all hangs together. Especially in a long piece like a novel.
That’s the job description as I see it (today).
Okely Dokely – thanks for stopping by.
I’m putting on the kettle now to make some tea and dive in to Week 8 – Recovering a Sense of Strength.
Wishing you… some poetry this week. Some to read and some to write and some to hear in the everyday clangity-clang of life.
Go easy ~p
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