Sound of Paper: 5 Areas for Improvement

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Sound of Paper. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.

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These are 5 areas I’d like to work on, to make my creativity more productive. While my upbringing raises an inner critic that’s shrieking “No! Martrymartyrmartyr!” at this, I’m well aware that the two key words for me are “ease” and “comfort.” If I feel both of these, I am actually better able to take life’s stressors than if I’m feeling all virtuous and burned out from working myself in the way that drains, rather than builds, creativity and productivity. I can see being born into a prosperous country and married into a safe situation as a source of guilt, or I can treat it like the enormous gift that it is.

  1. Pay attention to what genuinely interests me. In Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, one thing she mentions is investing time in things genuinely enjoyed and liked,not things you “should” like. Thus I don’t read JRR Tolkien despite enormous social pressure, but I still feel a weird obligation to read every book that crosses my path when I shouldn’t have to. I’m reading one that kind of bores me right now. I should be interested in it – I’m just not. It’s that dense, literary prose that gets so much praise these days, but that I just don’t connect with. Plan: It’s ok for me to set the book down. Goodreads doesn’t need to know I didn’t finish it.
  2. I found a dance group that meets monthly that I love, but every month I’ve been getting an injury just before going. Month 1 it was hives, month 2 I was fighting off a cold, and month 3 I have a sprained hamstring. I need to address what’s happening on a physical and metaphysical level because I don’t think this is subconscious sabotage on my part. Plan: Do an uncrossing, and pay very careful attention to what goes on around me at that time.
  3. I keep finding myself choosing between workout time and time with friends. It has caused me some setbacks in my fitness. I have to put workout time FIRST. It’s awkward, since most of my friends also have weird schedules or day jobs that require a bedtime. Also, spring and summer – the times where it’s easy for me to go meet people – are generally when they’re off traveling, so socializing at that time is also awkward. Plan: I have to put working out first. The calendar back and forth and limiting spontaneity is a bummer, but it can be done.
  4. I still frequently feel overwhelmed, with the following on my plate: the book, Fat Chic, PNC, and the Doctor Who 5 year anniversary. Plan: People do keep offering to help, especially on the 5 year. Right now it’s the process of a)hoping we can get funds and b)working it out with the park. I do have  fallback plan in my back pocket. I also have a very simple task breakdown for PNC: mostly I’m feeling guilty I’m not out pounding the stories, even though there are a lot of other inevitable blips in the works right now, and I will probably still only infrequently take stories. The West Memphis 3 disinformation investigation is still on my to-do list; it just keeps getting buried. I also have a super simple, one-thing-a-day approach for Paganicon. Today, it’s making up print-at-home business cards. I may just print labels and stick them on index cards for that one.
  5. I am suffering from gardening inertia. The last few years I’ve been terrible with growing things. Normally I’m quite good, and I love to have a garden where I live, but it’s not happening. Since all I can do is container gardening, it shouldn’t be that difficult, and yet it’s been one problem after another, including weird inertia and illness issues slowing me down. Year 1 we had the wasps, Year 2 I’m dealing with moths, and year 3 the “bad neighbor” wilt (if I had any question as to who the wronged party was, my plants answered it for me – neighbors with bad intentions kill your plants; it’s an old superstition I believe. Goes back to the 16th century.) Plan: remind myself that the season is later, and hit the books. Whenever I have mystifying problems in something I used to be good at, a re-read, review and update usually sets me to rights. But I still think the whole soil “mystery” is ridiculous, and the esoteria of composting teas drives me nuts. There’s green, and then there’s fundamentalism to a ridiculous extreme.