Returning to Writing

Saturday 24 November 2007

Lucy posted over a week ago about Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. I've read a few other of Julia's books and found them edifying, and I thought I had at least begun this book in years past - but if I have, I have forgotten (such a fish memory; how do I function in society?) I have been trying unsuccessfully to get writing, but have been stumped as to how to get back. The past several weeks have been very strange for me, a sort of no-man's land of unmotivation, desire to write but a feeling of inability to get back on the horse.

So I ordered my copy of The Artist's Way and it arrived yesterday. It's a bit scary starting something new, committing to something, to a 12-week course of morning pages and artist dates*. I mistrust my ability to stay the course. But I need something to get me back into things, and doing this has the feel of God path about it. Stopping smoking the wacky weed was the first step. I think this is the second.

I'm interested in the concept of synchronicity and Cameron says this in the Introduction:

The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity. Those who speak in spiritual terms routinely refer to God as the creator but seldom see creator as the literal term for artist. I am suggesting you take the term creator quite literally. You are seeking to forge a creative alliance, artist-to-artist with the Great Creator. Accepting this concept can greatly expand your creative possibilities.

As you work with the tools in this book, as you undertake the weekly tasks, many changes will be set in motion. Chief among these changes will be the triggering of synchronicity: we change and the universe furthers and expands that change. I have an irreverent shorthand for this that I keep taped to my writing desk: "Leap, and the net will appear."

It is my experience both as an artist and as a teacher that when we move out on faith into the act of creation, the universe is able to advance. It is a little like opening the gate at the top of a field irrigation system. Once we remove the blocks, the flow moves in.
What think ye of this comment? Of the idea of synchronicity? Of faith? I love the way Cameron puts this; the mystic in me yells, "Yes! Yes! The universe is like this! It waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed." I have certainly found in the past that taking the first step opens up the second. But it is a scary path at times. You can see only the next step in front of you. Walking out into it feels like you're being asked to step off the edge of a cliff. And yet you put your foot forward and find solid ground. But then the next step forward feels like the cliff edge again. And on and on.

The last short story I wrote was like this; I had an inkling of an idea, a line from a song. I started with that and took one step forward. And got a couple of lines. Took another. Got another couple. And then suddenly, in the space of a few hours, I had this short story written. Afterwards, it felt like it was inside me fully formed somewhere and just kinda fell out. But in the process of writing it, it didn't feel like that at all.

And of course, having done it then, I don't feel at all like I can do it again. I'm sure even if I manage to write 3 million short stories and 19 novels, it will always feel like this. Perhaps if it doesn't it's because I'm writing formula. Which is good. And bad :)

* Morning Pages - three longhand pages written first thing-ish in the morning. Whatever you want. Just write 3 of the suckers. I'm familiar with this concept and that of artist dates from Cameron's other books I've read. I must say, I kinda approached this idea with trepidation (mainly because it would mean curtailing my other addiction, blog writing and reading, which tends to happen first thing in the morning). But this morning I did them, and hopefully tomorrow morning I'll do them, and I can't say any further than that. The aim of these pages is to get some of the useless crap that's swirling around in your head out of your head and onto the page, hopefully allowing for some other stuff that's lying underneath to come forward. Many people swear by them.

Artist date - a once-a-week occurrence. Can be anywhere that feeds the artistic part of your personality. Things that fuel the mystery rather than being things you feel like you "should" do. Magic, delight, fun. Things that you can put off because they're not urgent. Art gallery, movies, live music, whatever. They don't even need to be places to visit outside. They could be cooking something, or lighting incense or candles or whatever. Just things that feed your creative soul. And they must be done alone. Just you and yourself. Which is really fun, once you get over the idea of going somewhere by yourself. I've done these artist dates before and they really are quite powerful.

So I'm feeling good that I have a bit of a compass to guide me back in again. It's a bit scary, but not writing is scarier.

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