I completed the work of the Sound of Paper yesterday, making this the 8th book of Julia Cameron’s creativity series I’ve completed. I have to admit that sometimes I feel a little lost when I take breaks between her books – it is all the artistic mentorship I needed and never got, and sticking with the Artist’s Way program really has helped me stick with my other programs in life. When I started the Artist’s Way I was blocked, doing everything BUT writing the book I had quit my full time job to write, and filled with purposeful self-defeat. I’ve learned to go easy on myself – and found I work better, produce more, and most of the time, the quality is pretty good.
I have a distinct memory of a summer between college semesters, the only one I spent with my parents. My mother was pressuring me about school despite my explorations costing her nothing, and I said in frustration, “I’m still trying to find myself!” My mother was quite snappish, and acted as if it was the worst thing I ever said. There was a plan, it was her plan, and I was going to stick with it even though a)she paid for less than a third of my education (and it was a loan, one I alas still need to repay and would not have had to take -and would ironically be able to repay – if she and my father hadn’t actively obstructed my ability to work a job during school) and b)the plan itself was proving to be more and more unsuitable. My mother had spent years conditioning me to do things I didn’t enjoy, and she was determined to steer me into a life that only had joy for her in it, no matter what it cost me.
It was one thing for the high school girl that she treated as a house servant to try to dodder through writing while playing a musical instrument she didn’t enjoy. But the college woman that came back had a 3.8 GPA and had spent a year of her life having it pointed out to her that she was actually rather special in terms of talent, ability, and strength. I may have been painted as average and serviceable in high school by people determined to perceive me that way, but in college, without my family to manipulate the context by which I was understood, I suddenly became an intelligence to be respected and a voice to be heard. I’m not sure if college helped me find myself – but it gave me enough power to recognize that my family expended a great deal of energy in gaslighting me into believing I was someone I was NOT.
I can’t say I ever found myself in college. I discovered I was Wiccan, although not in a manner associated with most American Wiccans. I discovered that yes, I did love to write, and that I do have a journalistic instinct. But as to finding myself – the Artist’s Way is what has helped with that. The guided journey, all 8 books, has helped me establish habits and pay attention to my own needs. In the process, it has made me a better partner, has actually helped drop off friends that were bad for me, and made me a better friend to the ones that found the changes in me a positive thing.
I’ve ordered the 12 remaining books (prayer books included) by Cameron that I don’t own. I use Answered Prayers as a sort of divination service. Until the next book comes, I’ll be doing a daily practice of morning pages, affirmations, a review of the principles, and a brief moment of meditation over the Artist’s Way Every Day and a reading from the prayer book Blessings. I also have a literal piggy bank I am stuffing with bills over time, so I can eventually sign up for the online Artist’s Way class that Cameron teaches.
This blog may lay fallow between books, or I may find something inspiring. I might post videos here about creativity – TedTV has turned out to be something of an amazing find. I might repost from other artist’s way blogs on WordPress.com. I will do as I am moved to do, between writing a book, revising poetry, and outlining articles I’ve been contracted for this summer.