For this time period, I am working through Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan’s book Money Drunk, Money Sober before I work through the Prosperous Heart. The following blog entries are in response to prompts and experiences from the book. I see this as an extension of my Artist’s Way work. Some of my entries are jarring and highly personal – any program of sobriety and self-improvement demands admitting dysfunction both personally and in family, and it also calls to admit some painful truths. While not everything I work on appears here, a number of realities do. I have a genuine body of work thanks to my work on the Artist’s Way program, and I can’t ignore the changes the continual commitment has brought about. Because of that, I also can’t ignore what going further into the harder aspects of the program – like facing money issues – has the potential to improve.
I know I’ve capsized success a few times (quite a few times.) Some were conscious, some were unconscious.
The vast majority came down to one helpless statement that came up from the depths of my confused inner artist/inner child: “But I don’t know how…” Even with my childhood love of libraries, learning the how was often beyond me. My hometown library fell to the measly side when it came to any information that was relevant to my life. Getting that job in the big library in the county system got me past some of it, and the Internet has become a wonderful and dangerous beast where I can find out exactly how – assuming I’ve come to a truth-telling source. Doing the Artist’s Way work is how, especially the work of Finding Water and Walking in this World. Asking other writers who have been at this for awhile is how. Overcoming messages about how “stupid” I was for not immediately understanding my mother’s instructions (she was and is a lousy communicator and takes no responsibility for that or any other choice she makes) is how. I’ve only recently realized I’m not stupid at all, people just treated me like I am stupid.
I did not, for the most part, have helpful and supportive teachers. It was made clear that most of them had slotted me into one stereotype or another for their personal convenience, and that meant there was no getting help from them or figuring out “how.” My teachers, ultimately, were people who took teaching jobs because of their own inability to make their creative goals happen.
So when it comes to creative capsizing, here are a few spot where I’ve done it:
- Every time an editor has sent me back inviting me to make revisions and re-submit, where I’ve never re-submitted.
- Every time I did not follow up a request for a full manuscript after pitching a proposal.
- Every time I have put helping someone else with their projects before my own goals. This happens a lot. Not worse but not better, not one of those projects where my time and resources got used ever came to fruition. It was a creatively blocked person also blocking me. I have a friend right now that I’ve coached on and off on his book over the years, and he’s not too happy that he’s all raring to go, and since he’s not in a position to help me in return for the help I’ve given him, I’ve had to firmly say, “No. Me first.”
- Every time I’ve listened to a person who said “No! Don’t do that!” All ideas are risky, and I let someone else’s fears and jealousies cloud my judgement for the sake of being liked – when the reality is that that person’s controlling behavior was a big indicator that I wasn’t liked, and that that person didn’t deserve my kindness, either.
- Every time I allowed my mother to censor something I wrote because she didn’t like how she looked in it. Even as a child when I wasn’t consciously critical of her, I held up a mirror and she didn’t like what she saw. She blamed me for seeing it, rather than herself for making the choices I observed.
- Staying in Mankato after I graduated. I did get job interviews, and if I’d moved my ex would have sucked it up and moved especially after the flight school relocated. But at the time I just wasn’t brave enough, and was still trying to make the pointless effort of winning my ex mother-in-law’s approval. (I no longer bother with this sort of thing. My actual behavior does little to change the opinions of others, so I might as well please myself.)
- Skipping out on that summer job at Custer State Park. I had no way of getting there, or back. I regret that, not just because of the money I could have earned, but also because I suspect I would have met some good people to know in the future.
So yes, I’ve overturned success quite a few times. I’m learning now how to keep that boat upright.