Tuesday, October 8, 2013

In The Artist's Way

I picked up The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron specifically because I don't agree with its basic principles, to whit: there is a higher power controlling the universe and creativity is the universe speaking through you (though to be fair, it turns out I was about half mistaken on the latter). As I've mentioned before, I'm pretty antagonistic to the idea of a muse.

Since I picked up the second job, I've been in a bit of a slump as far as writing. That's not just the time and energy issue, I'm also trying some projects that are outside of my comfort zone, as well as there being some non-work, non-writing stress factors recently (both positive and negative).

I try very hard to be open minded. There's all sorts of things I flat out don't believe, but every now and again I like to pick up one of their big texts, take a deep breath, set aside what  I think I know, and try to appreciate something I don't believe on its own merits. Generally I don't come out of it vastly changed, but I enjoy the experience, and I get a better understanding of something that's potentially going to affect my life. It also helps shear away some faulty assumptions I've tended to take for granted. So I've read young earth creationism texts, I've read Atlas Shrugged, and now I'm reading the Artist's Way.

 It's better than I expected. It's not really so much about writing as it as about general self-help "know thyself" stuff, with a theme of creativity. I do find myself resenting the constant implication that I'm probably blocked because of well-meaning but critical parents, because I have possibly the most embarrassingly encouraging gaggle of parents that have ever existed, but self-help in my experience tends to be like horoscopes in terms of reliance on statistical likelihood. The advice of having fun and setting aside time to feed and nurture your creative self are very good. Early on in the process I did sit down and just write out a story in one go- an easy bit of fluff thing that was much more inside my range of what I know I can do in a couple of hours- and it felt great. I've been thinking a lot lately about how much little triumphs like that and an environment full of other writers help me out. I'm still behind where I want to be, but I feel artsier. I'm thinking about what I want and why I do this. And I think that's to the good.

There are times this book feels incredibly selfish in a very mid-90s California way. I understand the me me me aspects of it are meant as a counterbalance to the idea imposed on us that the greatest virtue is selflessness and that our wants should be subsumed under the wants of others and the larger cultural norms. But I don't feel like that's a problem I have in any serious way.

Still, it feels like it's been a bit of an emotional high colonic. In a good way. 

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