Bit late this week with my check in from working with The Artist’s Way.
The reason? Well…. There isn’t really a “good” reason. I’ve just been…. Delayed.
In the midst of a huge battle with FEAR right now. Huge and huge and HUGER than huge. It grows each day as I work my way through the reVision of Sanctuary.
It’s like…. I wake to a WEIGHT upon me each day and I have to fight my way out of the bed. I am not sleeping well at all at all at all… and as I lay there in the night, I often think, “Why don’t you just GET UP?!?” But I don’t. And in the morning… oh I just want to sleep. And it is so obvious that all of this is connected to … AVOIDING the page.
I am glad (and just a wee bit proud) to announce that I have been making it to the page each day… for at least a wee bit. Some days, Like today, I manage to stick with it for longer and OHHHHH it feels good when I do that. It is the GETTING to the page that is hard for me. Often, once I am there, I am happy happy happy to play in Izzy’s world.
Today, I rounded the corner on Day 5 (the book currently takes place over 9 days). Tomorrow I will begin work on Day 6. Can I get an “Ooh yeah!?”
And so… as I battle with my fears… I also fall behind on the TAW posting. But here we are…. Moving forward.
Week 9 of TAW is all about recovering our sense of compassion – especially compassion toward…. You guessed it… our Selves as artists.
And, of course, Julia dives right in to my least favourite topic right off the top. FEAR. But I do love the way she does it.
Flipping the chicken on it’s ear this week in order to dive right in to the juicy bits…
Julia… kicks it all off by telling us that…
One of the most important tasks in creative recovery is learning to call things—and ourselves—by the right names… We have wanted to create and we have been unable to create and we have called that inability laziness.
Oooh yeah, Sister. Sing it. I call myself lazy all the all the alllllll the time. Though I know danged well that I work hard and so on and so forth… it is never EVER hard enough. Nuh uh. Never never!
She goes on to state CLEARLY and concisely, wonderfully and… shockingly…
Blocked artists are not lazy. They are blocked.
The blocked artist spends energy on self-hatred, on regret, on grief and on jealousy. The blocked artist spends energy on self-doubt.
The blocked artist does not know how to begin with baby steps. Instead, the blocked artist thinks in terms of great big scary impossible tasks: a novel, a feature film, a one-person show, an opera. When these large tasks are not accomplished, or even begun, the blocked artist calls that laziness.
Do not call the inability to start laziness. Call it fear.
And Miss PamelaPoop – do not call the inability to FINISH laziness. Call it fear.
Name it true.
I am terrified to finish this reVision. Because once I finish it and go over the beastly thing one more time (just to check and check and check for the oh so obvious horribleness), I will have to… LET SOMEONE READ IT.
Fuck me, right?
I don’t wanna. Cuz… it so might suck. Or blow. Or just, lie there on the page like a rotting dead and smelly fish.
There is a part of me that thinks…. If it is not… “good” then… well … then I am not “good”. There is a part of me that thinks that if this novel, my second novel, is not any where near as … engaging… as my first novel… then… well… then… I shall just … fall over and die.
Course that isn’t true.
And this is still early days, in truth.
The draft of Mostly Happy that I FINALLY let a few select readers see was NOT the finished book. There was still miles to go to reach that end. But…. I forget that.
In the deep dark night and the cold early morning, I forget that.
As I walk, with a thermos of coffee and the laptop out to my wonderful Writing Burrow, I am filled with dread and I almost always pause, 1/2 way there and throw up a little in my mouth. This is how my days start, right now.
And it’s hard to remember that they will get better again.
I will finish this draft and I will let my chosen readers into this new world and then… and then…?
And then, they will be with me and I won’t be all alone in this world anymore.
And… even if what they have to say sends me back in and back in and back in again to make the work stronger… I will have COMPANY on the journey. And that, my friends, will be fantastic.
My brain knows this.
My gut… well… it will keep churning as we work through this end bit for the next couple of weeks.
It’s par for the course.
I’ve an urge to just stop right there and let THIS be my check in for the week. Ha. But no… there’s more.
Hear our sweet soul sister say THIS…
The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist.
The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all.
She goes on to say…
…You must give yourself permission to begin small and go in baby steps. These steps must be rewarded.
Oh wait, what?
My inner meany yells, “So I should reward myself for … just doing my damned job?”
Yes, Pam. Right now, that is exactly what you should do. Reward yourself for making it into the Writing Burrow and sitting down and doing the work.
I tend to forget the “reward” part. Focusing instead on how god-darned LONG it took me to get my butt into the chair.
Do not call procrastination laziness. Call it fear.
And listen… listen… to these wise words….
There is only one cure for fear. That cure is love.
Use love for your artist to cure it’s fear.
Stop yelling at yourself. Be nice. Call fear by its right name.
I shall try, Julia.
I shall do more than try. I shall DO IT.
Yes. I shall.
Sister J goes on to talk about the power of Enthusiasm and how much stronger it is than “discipline.” Fascinating stuff, I tell ya.
As artists, grounding our self-image in military discipline is dangerous.
The discipline itself, not the creative outflow becomes the point.
This rings so true for me. So freaking true.
Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us.
Enthusiasm (from the Greek, “filled with God”) is an ongoing energy supply tapped into the flow of life itself. Enthusiasm is grounded in play, not work.
Imagine if instead of pacing out to the Writing Burrow with puke in my mouth but DETERMINED to WHIP this BOOK into SHAPE…. I instead came out here with the feeling of heading off on a “secret adventure.”
What other people may view as discipline is actually a play date that we make with our artist child: “I’ll meet you at 6:00 AM and we’ll goof around with that script, painting, sculpture….”
Our artist child can best be enticed to work by treating work as play.
Julia goes on to talk about Creative U-turns. This section… I did not mark up at all.
I do not think that this is because the words were not screaming out to me. I think it is because… I have been so FRICKEN close to falling into one.
I have been so close, my friends, to… abandoning this book. So close to quitting all together. Way way too close.
I read the section on Creative U-Turns And I will read it again and again and again and I will not U-turn myself. I will keep moving forward with this book, and with my writing work. And if the next step is finding a darned Agent then … I will do that too.
Moving on to the next section in the chapter – Blasting Through Blocks.
I did this exercise. And I feel certain that it may have saved my life. Especially step Five.
I usually send you to the book itself to get the exercise, but here is a quick version … It is STRONG stuff. Strong strong stuff. I can attest to that.
Julia Cameron’s Blasting Through Blocks Exercise (From TAW)
To be used at the beginning of a new project, or any time the work bogs down or grows difficult.
1. List any Resentments you have in connection with this project (no matter how “petty’).
2. Ask your artist to list any and all fears she has about the projected piece of work and anyone connected to it.
3. Ask yourself if that is all – have you left out any fear? Suppressed any anger? Get it out onto the page.
4. Ask yourself what you stand to gain by NOT DOING the project.
5. Make your deal. The deal is, “Okay, Creative Force, you take care of the quality. I’ll take care of the quantity.” Sign your deal and POST it.
I did it.
I did it and… yeah yeah… I wept I little. Especially doing #4. That’s where I really really GOT how afraid I am to finish this book. Yee-ouchy!
And I wrote out my “deal” on the chalkboard in the Writing Burrow. It will stay there until this reVision is done… and perhaps beyond.
And lemme tell ya…
Though it took me a while to get my butt into the chair today. I did it. And it was … oh man… it was such a relief at this point to hand over that “quality control” to the Creatrix and just… do my job and get the words onto the page.
A weight was lifted.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I ain’t gonna try to make this a super awesome book, but… It feels like I have a partner now.
Can it work?
Time will tell.
And… just to keep the chicken in line…. Here’s the rest….
Morning Pages: 9/9
Ooh yeah! We had a fantastic Wednesday together.
The whole fear thing coming up for me this week. So bang bang BANG on for what is happening with me right now.
Also a few fun ones – people writing me an email as I am about to email them, or calling when I am about to call.
1. That Block Busting exercise was enough for me this week. Though the tasks she lists at the end of the chapter feel entirely tempting (especially that one about choosing an artist totem)… I am going to MOVE on to the next chapter.
Slow down and listen to your body. See what is really happening with your self and… GIVE THINGS THEIR PROPER NAME.
You don’t need to push away the feeling or sensation, just recognize it for what it is. Greet it, and call it by it’s true name.
Remember what that wise woman from across the bay said to you, this summer, “You might even be able to thank it, one day, for the lessons it brings.”
~Amen (and a little woman) to THAT.
Thanks for stopping by.
Sorry this one was a bit late.
Wishing us all a week of…
Courage in the face of fear.
Go easy ~p
Multi-genre collections of stories where we are the heroes and the stars!
Kim Fahner's Blog
follow me on Instagram: @frohmandj
explorations in creativity