2021 is a weird writing period for me. I am awaiting presales of my new poetry book in May (release is scheduled for September 2022). I have sent out my memoir to see what happens to it. That will probably take a long time. Then I have 3 essays that are taking forever to be published–in fact, one of them, I don’t know if it will be published or not as I’ve lost contact with the journal’s editor. Maybe I should send the piece out again. I’ve been waiting on a few poem publications. And I stopped writing. That doesn’t usually happen to me.
I think it has to do with waiting on these books. I feel disoriented and unfocused.
Luckily, my creativity group is working on two books by Eric Maisel that I think will help. We are reading Unleashing the Artist and doing exercises in The Creative Workbook for Coaches and Creatives. For the first exercise, we listed all the creative projects that we have going on–either in process or imagined. Then we had to assign values as to how important they were. That was eye-opening. Give it a try!
I wrote a book review of a new poetry book this weekend and sent it off to a journal. And I have one more review I committed to for December. Then I have to say NO for awhile. I do not know how anybody can tackle NaNoWriMo in November because of the holidays. That blows my mind to even think about it! If you are doing it, you are probably not reading this right now.
Last year I wrote about starting to work on Julia Cameron’a The Artist’s Way with a local group of artists. I haven’t said much in a long time, probably since before the pandemic began. I thought I’d give you a little update about the process.
The group is still meeting once a month, generally with me in attendance. We moved to Zoom meetings when the pandemic began. We are down to four fully-committed women. Last week we worked on chapter nine where I learned that enthusiasm is more important than discipline (YAY!!!!) and that all artists make creative U-turns upon occasion. When we finish the book, we plan to start work on another book but haven’t yet decided which one.
If you’re familiar with TAW (The Artist’s Way), you know that there are two permanent parts and one temporary one. The temp component is working the book itself–reading it and doing the exercises. Though temporary, reading the book can be done over and over again. The permanent and most important parts are Morning Pages and Artist Dates.
I am here to fess up that I doubt I can ever complete TAW the way Julia Cameron wants us to. What works for her and thousands of people doesn’t work for me. I have to do it my way (can you hear the song there? hah).
First let me tell you the brilliant part of TAW–for me. It’s the Artist Dates. Because art is all about PLAY and ENTHUSIASM, I love giving myself permission to play in and about anything creative. So when I ordered the supplies for an art journal and got all excited about it, that was an Artist Date. When I started work on the Wild Unknown tarot cards, that was an Artist Date.
The book itself is fun and gives me ideas of how to think about creativity
and writing itself, but I am not a blocked artist, and I really think the program is geared for the blocked artist, the frustrated artist, or someone who is prone to getting blocked. Many times someone is blocked because other people have rained on their parade which is so extremely unfortunate. Luckily, I have not had a lot of those experiences or at least ones that I really took to heart. But I know others who have had that happen over and over again.
OK, now the last part of the program is the Morning Pages. Some people think these are the most crucial. I hate them, and after trying them, I refuse to do them any more. They are just work. More stuff that I “have to” do–about the opposite of play and enthusiasm as you can get. So why do I have to do them? 😉 (Hint: I don’t!) That said, I see them helping other people, so I am not dissing the concept or the application.
I’m just being honest about my participation in the process.
I had one of my stupid complicated migraines the other day and it has lingered, maybe because of the VF. Otherwise, I am doing fine, and I am sure that I am getting better. In two or three more months I should be completely well. Grateful!!!!
We had Thanksgiving on the patio with Mexican food yesterday with daughter and her fiance. Thursday the gardener and I will dine alone. Yes, it will include gluten free stuffing. Stuffing is the “Artist Date” of the Thanksgiving menu hahaha.
Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans this week. Please stay safe. With the vaccine on the horizon we want to be in good health to really appreciate life after the vaccine.
I wasn’t surprised to discover fear is a pattern that repeats itself throughout my book. A twin of anger, the series I wrote about last week, fear controlled much of my childhood and teen years.
Although, for the most part, I learned to fear because of the anger of others, fear invaded all aspects of my life. In this rough passage that takes place when I am in first grade, I am almost “paralyzed” with fear of the dog that lived across the street from my house:
The chow wasn’t giving up, and my stomach began to clench as if it were pressed in my father’s metal vise. I sank onto my knees on the dirt drive, small stones digging into my skin, wedging between the lips of the cuts and scrapes I’d gotten riding my bike too fast. Dear God, make the lady call him inside. I bit the inside of my cheek and was soon sucking on iron, as the taste of blood flooded my mouth. Eventually time collapsed on itself, and I ceased recording it in my head. I sat and sat, alert to the barking.
Fear is something I know. As an adult, fear became anxiety, which comes with specific symptoms like tingling limbs. I know what makes me afraid. What makes me anxious is more mysterious.
Have fear or anxiety ever controlled your life? Do you find fear tied to anger or is it unrelated? Or are you a particularly fearless person? What made you so?
Last week, in A Baker’s Dozen, I listed my books’ series, or repeating patterns. I plan to take a brief look at one pattern each week. Today is one of my non-emotion patterns: SCRAP, which happens to be the title of my book. The motif of scrap(s), trash, theft, salvaging, and re-use runs through many scenes. Scrap represents destruction and chaos until scraps can be salvaged and re-used.
On the more positive side of trash and scrap, when I was a kid, my father sold teepee burners to dumps and then started his own garbage business. I wrote about the teepee burners here. When he had his own business, he used to find all kinds of usable trash. He brought me boxes of books and costume trunk clothes that had been thrown into dumpsters.
When my grandmother entered the nursing home, she left behind with my parents a Victorian crazy quilt, made of irregular scraps. I think of it as a guiding image for my book. I wrote about it on Anneli’s blog here.
Like most crazy quilts, the scraps are velvet and satin and embroidered with designs. Many of the designs are floral.
My father uses scrap metal to make art:
The metal flowers are my favorites.
I use scraps to make scrapbooks, and I used to make stained glass out of glass shards, but I had to quit when I moved years ago. You have to have a designated work area because the tiny glass fragments get all over and can be dangerous. Now that I have the room to work on my stained glass I no longer have the skill to break the glass.
The project I was in the middle of when I quit stained glass: a Mizrah which is hung on an eastern wall to point in the direction of Jerusalem
Does the image of scrap as I’ve described it above show up in your writing or your daily life?