The Artist’s Way

No words yesterday. None, zip, nada. Zero.

But! My kitchen is 99% done. I still need under-cabinet lights and, more importantly, to eliminate the wires sticking out of the walls where those under-cabinet lights will get installed. Plus, possibly, a tile back-splash, the cost of which rather makes me question the need. But the microwave is up and the sink has been re-plumbed (because of a persistent minor drip). Everything got to come out of a cupboard and then go back in.

Also lots of household chores done, from laundry and clean sheets to dusting, including paintings and windows sills and baseboards, some vacuuming, sweeping the back porch, much dish-washing, in coordination with healthy cooking, of course. Also multiple dog walks, some extended playtime with dogs, and yoga. And there the day was, gone. It was 9PM and I thought about writing, but… I didn’t do it.

I did, however, spend some time reading The Artist’s Way. I’ve had this book recommended to me multiple times and, in fact, came very close to doing a group therapy workshop centered around it, but every time I picked it up, I got stuck on the spirituality involved. The author is in recovery and she’s a higher power person, by which I mean a believer in an active, involved, interactive creator. I’m… not. Not so much, anyway.

Maybe that all comes down to parents? My parents were present but strongly encouraged independence. A skinned knee might get a band-aid, but the band-aid probably came with “you’re fine, go play” and chances were probably good that before that came, “you know where the band-aids are.” Three kids under five and boo-boos get short shrift. It’s strange to try to imagine how very young my parents were back then.

At any rate, The Artist’s Way author believes in a benevolent creative force working through us for positive growth and I kept getting stuck on my inability to buy in to that. Do I find the punitive Old Testament God more plausible? Well, yeah, kind of, I do. Or God as love, sure. But God as creation? As a force of creative energy focused on art? That seems pretty idealistic in a world that includes fungus and cancer and tooth decay, slime molds, termites, gangrene… and, you know, dozens of other things that involve decay, destruction and death. Yesterday, however, I managed to shut up the questioning me long enough to break through and get into some different territory and there’s definitely some good stuff in that book. I’m going to have to work on at least accepting the spiritual side — pretending I believe until I believe or until I can’t pretend any more — and give the other aspects of it a try.

One of those aspects is to write Morning Pages every day. Three pages. It irks my analytical side that it specifically says three pages, but doesn’t offer a clue to what size notebook you might be writing in. Three pages on a yellow legal pad is a hell of a lot compared to three pages in the kinds of journals I used in college. But these Pages (yes, I capitalized again on purpose) are the starting place of this book’s approach to developing creativity, and I’m willing to go along and give it a try. So I’m revising my Write Plan — which I’m allowed to do, since it’s my plan — to start each day with Morning Pages. They’ll count as 350 words of my word count goal, because yes, I am obsessive enough that I did manual word counts on this morning’s pages and my loose-leaf notebook gives me room to write about 115-120 words per page.

After one day, I can’t say that it feels like I’ve unleashed great wonders of creativity, but it did give me room for some interesting thinking, as well as some satisfying metaphors. No one is ever supposed to read Morning Pages, including the author of them. They are written and then the page is turned and filed away. And they are written in longhand, with no corrections. The idea is to be setting your writing free and since that is definitely something I need, I’m willing to give it a try. But I pointed out in today’s pages that I was convinced a Creator couldn’t be a snob, since he/she/they’d created snot and farts as well as sunrises and starlit skies, and I want to remember that thought, not lose it to the swamp of spew that the Morning Pages will inevitably become.

Last thought before I go do something useful… yesterday, for Valentine’s Day, I had leftovers for dinner. This is a literal truth. It’s also a technical truth. And yet, what I had was a starter of prosciutto and melon, followed by a salad of mixed salad greens, avocado, and white radish, sprinkled with lime juice and Himalayan pink salt, and finished with a grass-fed beef burger accompanied by avocado slices and garlic-salted sweet potato fries.

prosciutto and melon image

Salad-whiteradish

burger

And what different stories can be created from that one reality! Poor me, leftovers all alone on Valentine’s Day. Lucky me, delicious gourmet dining in peaceful solitude. (Well, as peaceful as it gets when three dogs are staring at every bite taken.) Both true stories, but so different in their emotional weight. For me, the latter story is really the true one. I was quite pleased with my dinner last night, and loved the process of going from, “Hmm, what am I going to eat? I should really finish up those salad greens and that radish and … I guess I should clean out the refrigerator. If I peel this sweet potato and cut out the bad bits, I can use that. Ugh, this melon has dripped on the shelf…” to the moment of sitting down to my fancy dinner on my great-grandmother’s china and then remembering that it was Valentine’s Day.

Back to the writing thoughts: I’ve hit my word count for the day, so I’ve got writing sprints to do with fiction. Two of them. Today is the day where I break my chain of fail and start my chain of success. (That belongs on an infomercial for a motivational speaker in its level of hokiness, but — as the Artist’s Way author might say, people in creative recovery have no room for snarky self-doubt, so motivational self-talk it is!)

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2 thoughts on “The Artist’s Way

  1. I’ve read a little Julia Cameron. I’m a die hard atheist so the spirituality got to me. I did like the morning pages and have tried just writing some when I get up at various periods in life. One thing I like about her is she maintains that a writer does not have the luxury of waiting to be in the mood to write. A writer just needs to write. Always.

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