Finding Water-Artist Way Julia Cameron
Week 3 Uncovering a sense of support
Quotes, paragraphs and misc from the book
Quotes, paragraphs and misc from the book
Critical to any creative journey is a sense of creative support. You must practice discernment, weeding out that which does not serve and watering the shoots you want to foster. This week’s tasks invite you to consciously interact with those who are positive on your behalf. Reaching out to others for their belief, you will also reach with in and steady your personal confidence. If you had the faith, what might you try? This week’s explorations will lead you into knowing you own mind.
Who wants to try writing a novel if the act is going to cost us all our friends? And so novels go untried and artist go on blocked.
The truth is that creativity occurs in clusters. Consider Paris in the twenties and the cluster that built up around Gertude Stein’s hospitality. It can be argued that successful art is built on successful friendships. It can certainly be said that friends are what enable an artist to go the distance.
Julia shares...Good start, keep moving, my friends signaled back
It can be argued that successful art is built on successful friendships. It can certainly be said that friends are what enable an artist to go the distance. Step by step.
A believing mirror might say, “Don’t give up on it because of one person’s opinion.
Friends help us to weigh the positive against the negative. They help us to know when we have been savaged and when we just feel like we have been savaged.
Not all work will be inspired. Not all work will point in the right direction. Friends who know our work, our body of work, will be quick to notice when a new direction is struck. They make good sounding boards to discuss the validity of the direction we are trying, whether we are moving fruitfully forward into new terrain or have simply gone off on a tangent.
Friends may be able to tell us when we are working badly and when our critic is simply working overtime. Unfortunately our own inner critic is not a trustworthy guide as to the caliber of our work. Sometimes rarely our critic will let the second rate work slip past. More often, our critic will mercilessly attack work that does not deserve such attack. This is where the validating support of friends comes into play.
Listening to our friendly viewers over a hyperactive Inner Critic is a learned skill. All too often, it is fear that prevents an artist from stepping on to center stage.
Try a Sandwich call… make a phone call before and then a phone call after. Belief is contagious and sometimes when we cannot believe in ourselves we can at least believe in the belief of others.
Create a list of encourage friends, and then put this list in to action. Make a Phone, email; send a letter contact your believing mirror.
Don’t be surprised by the loving input you may receive. Our friends can be quite wise regarding the proper care and maintenance of our artist. Very often, when we are driven in our art, we fail to take loving actions to ward ourselves.
Try trusting you friends rather than playing the Lone Ranger. This flies in the face of our cultural mythology that telling us artist we are loners. We need not be loners. (Successful artist seldom are.) Remember that success occurs in clusters and is born of generosity.
To keep on keeping on takes energy and commitment, two variables we may need to borrow.
For most artists, discouragement is the private hell we do not talk about. Sitting in limbo and living in “almosts.”
Julia here reads poems by Ernest Holmes, “I pray not to be cynical. I pray not to close my heart.
For today, the assignment is to stay faithful, to keep on acting as if to put words to the page despite their difficulty, to maintain optimism despite pessimism, to keep on keeping on. For this, I need help. I have learned to ask for it.
On the days when one’s belief wobbles, piggybacking on a dear friend’s belief by facing it with their faith, we find our own. Do not sabotage ourselves, keep stubbornly working. So much of keeping on is just keeping on.
The real miracle was the relief of one artist sharing with another. We were in the artists’ boat together.
You are on the lookout for experience, strength, and hope. You want to h ear from the horse’s mouth exactly how disappointments have been survived. It helps to know that the greats have had hard times too and that your own hard times merely make you part of the club. Pen in hand select five mentors from among deceased. Focus on one of them asks for help and input that they might have for you at the current time. Sit quietly and listen till you hear guidance come to you. Write it out, very often you will find that there is wisdom available to you that does not seem to be your own.
Checking in with each other, it make the workday more doable, makes it something shared between friends.
Checking in with each other, it make the workday more doable, makes it something shared between friends.
Let’s talk about Ego
It is ego’s dicey proposition that as artists we should always be “special” and different. The ego likes to be set apart. It likes to look down its nose at the res of humanity. Such isolation is actually damaging. It is like reverse of the Midas touch turning everything golden into a problem. Ex: Let us say we have fear-as all humans do-the ego would have us having “artistic fear” which sounds like a specialized something that perhaps only an expert, and an expensive expert at that, could help us cope with.
If we have plan old ordinary fear then we are within reach of a solution. Fear has been with humankind for millennia and we do know what to do about it-pray about it, tale about it, feel the fear, and do it anyway. “Artistic” fear, on the other hand, sounds somehow nastier and more virulent, like just might not yield to ordinary solutions-and yet it does, the moment we become humble enough to try ordinary solutions.
When we choose to join the human condition rather than set ourselves apart from it, we begin at once to experience relief. Ex: if we stop calling our writers block “writers block” and begin using words like “resistance” and procrastination” we are suddenly no longer in rarefied territory.
One of the greatest disservices we can do to ourselves as artists is to make our work too special and too different from everyone else’s work. To the degree to which we can normalize our day, we have a chance to be both productive and happy. We can buy into our resistance-Writers block! Painters Block! – or we can simple say, “I don’t feel like working today, and I’ll bet an awful lot of other people are in the same boat.
The minute we identify with the rest of humankind, we are on the right track. The minute we set ourselves apart, we are in trouble. Our shared humanity is the solution. Our “specialness” is the problem.
The fact of being a novelist or a portrait artist matters less than the all –too- human thought “I am not sure I can pull this off this time.” All workers face this fear. It’s normal.
Ex: checking in-“I am having trouble starting, please put in the pray pot,” we may ask our friends, reducing our resistance from a gigantic block into something more manageable.
Any time our work process becomes something we can share with our “normal” friends we are on the road to health. Everyone one many not experience writers block or painters block but everyone can experience resistance. We can all relate to that.
“You’ll feel better once you make a stab at it.”
Suddenly we are on the road to recovery. Our creative dilemma has become a human dilemma.
All human being are creative. The more we can accept and welcome that fact, the more normal our own creativity can become. If it is “normal,” then it can be shared with everyone.
A changed attitude can lead to a new perspective.
The ego…again the darn ego, doesn’t like the proposition that artwork is like any other work. The ego likes mysterious and self-serving hokum like, “Artwork requires inspiration.” Hooey, as any honest artist will tell you, inspiration is far more often a by – product of work then its cause.
We don’t’ feel inspired, far from it, but we begin anyways and something isn the act of beginning seems to jump-start a flow of ideas. One thing seems to lead to another and another, and before we know it an “inspired” day’s work has transpired. Nike slogan, “Just do it.”
Turn to your personal list of encouraging friends. Listen to the details of his or her everyday life. Develop an interest in people and that interest is what you are working at now.
Listening to our friends as well as speaking to them of our own lives is very grounding. The more we know of what they are up to, the more we can feel that despite the essential isolation of the creative path, we are living a life in community.
“The bottom line is that we make art about the human condition and our lives must be rich with experience in order for our art to remain vital.” I so love this bottom line thought.
Little by little, we chip away at the problems and work our way toward a solution. All it takes is our focused time and attention. Nothing could be simpler. Nothing could be more rewarding. And yet, each day, when it’s time for the work phone call, it is tempting to just get on the phone and socialize. We laugh about resistance, but it’s hard, settling into work. The ego doesn’t like punching in and doing work on schedule. The ego likes more mystery and hokum. (Watch out-personal note)
The idea that the biggest secret of making art might just be making some art is a conclusion the ego works very hard to avoid. The ego wants us to be “in the mood” to make art at the very least. And yet as ny working artist will honestly tell you, waiting for the mood is a huge time waster.
How the ego wants it different!
Ego stands for Easing God Out
Artists know that when we are working at our best something larger than ourselves is working through us.
If we listen to the ego, we become dangerously marginalized. Our art become more difficult for us to make because we are too busy trying to make ourselves into artists.
We become focused, “How am I doing?” Rather than “What am I doing?” Our attentions strays from process to product. “Do I look like a real artist? We wonder.
The ego loves to keep us wondering. The ego likes uncertainty because wherever there is uncertainty there is grounds for obsession, particularly self-obsession, the ego’s favorite plaything. The ego doesn’t want art to boil down to the very basic question of process.
As we demythologize creativity, we exorcise a great many demons. We have no need for the demon of feeling special and different, isolated and alone.
“I’m going to the go upstairs and write for a while,” become as normal as a sentence as “I’m going to go downstairs and tackle a some of the laundry.” JC-My novel was simply one more job I had set for myself.
“Just as I couldn’t let the laundry piel up, or the dishes pile up, I couldn’t let the writing/paint etc. pile up, either.” A certain regular amount of writing was required.
Making writing/painting a part of normal life instead of something special and apart from it served me very well. I didn’t have the language for it then, but my writing life was “sober.” By sober” I mean nondramatic.
One of JC’s friends helped her address her first issue of emotional sobriety in her work life. Work needed to be daily and doable.
“Okay, God, you take care of the quality; I’ll take care of the quantity.” Posting a sign helped her from bingeing on negative emotions.
I went to work at my typewriter the same way my friend Jackie went to work, at her dress shop, I showed up. I ignored my resistance. I did my pages. When my pages were through for the day, so was my identity as a self-conscious writer. For the remainder of the day, I was a girlfriend, a mother, sister-many different roles beside “artist.” (Personally I would love to have a schedule like this)
Freed from the weight of my entire identity, writing became something I did more lightly.
My friendship base broadened. I could be friends with a lawyer and a kindergarten teacher. I could be friends with a painter and a housewife. You didn’t have to be an artist to be my friend. I didn’t have to act like and artist to be your friend. What we had in common was our shared identity as human beings. This was special enough for me.
It has all been accomplished by the “easy does it” method. I try to be conduit and a channel. My productivity has really been born of cooperation. I show up for work.
Most of us accomplish too little because are expecting to accomplish too much.
Although we love them and crave them, we do not really need vast savannahs of time to work at our art. What we need is the willingness to work at our art in the time that we have actually got.
Pen in hand. Explore the following questions.
What art form
Could you begin practicing if you actually tried “easy does it” as a work practice?
What art from do you tell yourself you have not time for?
Is it really true?
How do you kill time? TV? The phone? And can you stop doing that?
What is your artistic goal and what is a daily, workable amount that you can reasonably expect from yourself?
Can that amount be lessened?
What amount of work can you accomplish daily without drama? That is your sober quota.
The Best Kind of Friend
She became for me an island of light, fun, wisdom, where I could run with my discoveries and torments and hopes at any time of day and find welcome. May Sarton
What did the impressionists move love to paint? Lunch with each other.
Part of husbanding our talent lies in finding those who are generous enough to reflect us back as talented.
Everyone benefits from one another’s generosity. “True Believing Mirrors”
Believing mirrors are believers, first of all in the basic good of life. Setting aside chic skepticism, they are upbeat and encouraging. They believe in the college try. What’s more, they believe in trying again. They are realist. They expect good things, but they know good things take work. They assume you will do the work because your dreams are good and worthy. They will help you if they can.
What now they cannot know is exactly how much help they already are giving us simply by existing. One positive friend may be all that is takes for us to keep on keeping on.
Their relationship refreshes an rejuvenates
It is a function of believing mirror to focus us always on the positive, on the bottom line of our “doing better than you think.” Especially when working with an inner critic. It is not that a believing mirror ignores negativity; it is ore that a believing mirror considers the negative but still votes on the side of the positive.
A believing mirror focuses on our process as an artist. It finds dignity in the fact of making art, not in the fact of having made it as an artist-although a believing mirror always allows that it believes we will do that, too.
You’ve done too much good work for it to come to nothing,” a believing mirror will say.
Creativity is an act of faith and believing mirrors give us faith in our faith. Ex; it took powerful faith to continue the submission process. “Powerful faith” is a gift of believing mirrors.
There is purity to the connection between believing mirrors, and ability to see past differences to the divine spark within. What they have in common was admiration for each other’s work.
There can be a bottom lien tough mindedness to believing mirrors, a tendency to focus on the use of talent and to ignore the rest. Bottom line question…are you writing or painting?
Talking to your believing mirror about fears, misgivings and doubts and they might ask the question of my talent and whether I’m using them.
Pivotal to self-expression is the idea that three is a benevolent, interested Universe that wants us to expand. Without such belief, we may buy into our self-doubt and by doing so sharply limit what we are able to attain. We may think “wouldn’t it be lovely” and then automatically dampen our enthusiasm with “That could never happen”-but perhaps it could. It is the function of a believing mirror to keep us focused on the “Perhaps it could”
For a believing mirror, nothing is too good to be true. Spiritually grounded even if not conventionally religious, a believing mirror focuses on the divine spark of genius within us all. Because divine spark is godly in origin, and thing is possible. When we are connected to the Divine with in us nothing is beyond our reach.
There is a sacred quality to an alliance of believing mirrors. We are dedicated to seeing each other as pure spiritual potential. Our human personalities our foibles and flaws, are somehow overlooked. We are focused on the big picture of what is right with our selves rather than on the smaller and more limiting picture of what is wrong.
They remind us to simply take the next right step, faithfully believing that everything is unfolding exactly as it should. If you tell a believing mirror of a sudden and dramatic breakthrough, they may act as is there is nothing either sudden or dramatic about it. To them, it is simply the continued unfurling of something right and proper.
It is time for a timely thank you. A phone call, postcard, brief letter. Take the time not to make a connection of gratitude. Your believing mirrors may turn you thanks aside, saying “Oh, c’mon, it’s nothing,” but we know that it is not.
Believing Mirror in Action
A friend is one before whom I may think out loud. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
A believing mirror is a friend to our work, a determined optimist. A believing mirror does not expect creation to be without difficulty but it does expect for that difficulty to be mastered. No, No self-pity.
Bad days come with the territory…but we signed on for the whole enchilada.
Sometimes we shop around for drama and not finding any among friends or from our believing mirrors. No one wants to cosign the drama or you bullsh-t. They understand and know we just need to get emotional sober.
Trust is one of the key elements in finding a believing mirror. We need to trust the sensibility of the friend we are dealing with. We cannot feel they are just humoring us. Such humoring is not what we need. We need friends who are tough-minded enough to tell us what they see.
Our friends are not always available to us. Sometimes we will be stuck by doubt or despair and find that we must act in our own behalf to muster the courage to continue.
Take pen in hand, Write yourself a letter of encouragement, singling out the many things that you have done well. Give yourself the respect of a job well done. Give yourself a review that you wish that would receive.
I know I depended on my believing mirror a whole lot this past week...daily emails of segmented drama that was just part of the little circus I belong too.