I think that whatever our separate goals, creative ventures, paths in life might be, we all sometimes feel like we’re off course. For me this manifests itself in self-will, expectations, fear over what will be, and anxiety over what others will think. It takes me a little while to recognize when I’m off course, usually indicated by restlessness, distraction, and a general icky feeling (there is no better word for it); but when I finally do, I immediately try to find my North Star to right my course. The quickest way for me to do this is by turning to one of my mentors, Julia Cameron.
I’ve mentioned Julia before, as well as her books, the first being The Artist’s Way. In the past ten years, I’ve probably read through The Artist’s Way fully three times, even completing all the exercises once (which was no easy task), and I still do the Morning Pages (three pages written out longhand, of anything and everything, when I first wake up). And, for me, there is no being done with Julia and her books. In times of creative despair or confusion, they’re where I inevitably turn.
A couple months ago I started The Artist’s Way again…for the very purpose of keeping myself on track. There are twelve chapters, the first being titled, “Recovering a Sense of Safety.” I take chapters a couple pages at a time, usually in the morning before work, really trying to absorb and consider the words. It was while reading this chapter that I started jotting down ideas for this blog. In chapter one, Julia writes:
It takes a great deal of ego strength to say … ‘Wait a minute! I am too an artist!’ The dreaded response may come back, ‘How do you know?’ and, of course, the fledgling artist does not know. There is just this dream, this feeling, this urge, this desire. There is seldom any real proof, but the dream lives on.
She goes on to describe how to handle that dreaded question (from others, from ourselves) and how to begin to give the dream a chance to unfold. Reading through this chapter and taking its message to heart, helped me to silence the inner critic long enough to actually pursue this endeavor, which has essentially been me validating my artistic self and shouting to the world, “I am too an artist!”
Of course, since I’ve been working on the blog, nineteen days now, I haven’t returned to The Artist’s Way. Simultaneously, I have heard the inner critic piping up more and more, asking dreaded questions. Though the blog is going well, even opening up new doors and ideas, other aspects of my writing are not, and I feel plagued by self-doubt and fear. Where, three weeks ago, my heart and mind were open to whatever might be in store, whatever inspiration might strike, I’ve felt myself closing off…suddenly unsure if I can be a successful writer, if I’ll ever finish anything, if there is, indeed, any path at all for my work.
The only thing I can think of to do is turn to chapter two. It is titled, “Recovering a Sense of Identity.” That’s the other thing about Julia’s book…it always seems to answer whatever question I have at the moment I turn to it. (I tell you, it’s like magic!). So, right now, I’m going to make myself some coffee (because I feel a headache coming on), get out the pumpkin pie truffles (because tis the season for all things pumpkin), grab a black kitty (because we all need our familiars on these quests), and spend some time finding my North Star…and my course..again.