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.
Remember, just because it works for me does not mean I expect these things to apply to you. Even those with the same experiences experience those occasions differently.
- Wicca. Something about converting to Wicca brought me into my creative groove in a way nothing else has. It got me writing, when the relentless pressure of my writing and journalism major was killing me creatively. Magic is definitely an element in nearly all the fiction I write, even in the straight realistic fiction novel I finished from Nanowrimo last November. There always has to be one Wiccan or other Pagan character who is so far from granola-crunching that she at least owns a pair of Fluevogs.
- My mother. She’s my go-to villain; it takes art and pure evil to be totally selfish and still make yourself out to be martyr. My sister makes the conflicted villain, as she does egregiously awful things while convincing herself she’s “helping.” Not sure if I’ll ever touch her wildly inappropriate and frankly disturbing interest in the sex lives of people directly related to her; it was creepy enough when she told me someone she dated was lusting after me, and she seemed to be encouraging it. That’s prelude to one woman nominating another for sexual assault. Ick.
- Minneapolis. It’s inspired a lot of non-fiction. I’ve realized I’m just not in love with the place, but it works. There’s a lot worth sharing here. But I have to admit, I’m quite infatuated with Portland now. The native Portlanders would probably not love that. And I can’t really go anywhere, although I’m looking closely at possibly applying for a writer’s retreat now that I’ve got a shoppable portfolio built up.
- Pete C., my friend from college. We both said “I love you,” to each other in multiple ways that avoided discussion. We never dated. The most action we gave each other was a fraternal peck during one of those weird collegiate party games, because despite fantasies about doing more than that with him, the idea of actually kissing him made me want to hide under the card table we were sitting at. (The boys back then were generally not too interested in me. I get hit on more now than I did when I was “hit on-able” age.) It was a rich, rewarding friendship. While I don’t think Pete cared as much about me as I did about him – if he did, he would have initiated some sort of contact after I left Lakeland, and I had my doubts while we were still in the same geographical space – it’s still a cornerstone for my most positive relationships with men. I’ve never had a friendship like that since, and I’m constantly trying to recreate it in my fiction. It’s been 12 years, and I miss him terribly. I have to admit though, I’m probably avoiding him just like I avoid my favorite uncle because of all the weight I’ve gained.
- Dance. It doesn’t work its way into my writing much, but it’s part of my essential nutrients. I have to find some way to do it, some place to do it regularly. It’s like I’m half dancer, half writer, even if I’ve never really pursued dance performance.