Life Under the Apple Tree

Thinking Out Loud

Artist’s Way Check-In: Week One

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The Artist's WayNovember 1-8, 2009

11/1

I’ve read through the entire book and I have already been doing the morning pages for two months. Today I’m working my way back through the introduction and the chapter for Week One. I wanted to read the entire book before I started the program — which I decided to start in conjunction with AEDM — so that I wouldn’t be distracted by wondering what came next. (I’m very easily distracted!) Now I can relax and take my time through the weekly exercises.

First impressions of the morning pages: This exercise became a “must” from day one. I’ve made several attempts to “become a writer” over the years, after realizing that I could write in college, and that it was a very satisfying and meaningful way of expressing myself, easier for me in some ways than speaking. Grade school always made me feel like I couldn’t write, and English class was always my least favorite class. Because of the fears and insecurities that I brought with me from grade school, I failed my first college English class, but I retook it with the same teacher and received an A. From then on I was hooked and I went on to get my BA in English Lit.

After graduation, I thought that in order to “be a writer” I had to “become a writer.” I thought I had to prove myself by getting published, and that to get published, I just had to try really hard. If I wrote without giving up, as so many writing books advise, it would eventually happen. But I would always get discouraged and give up, to the point of thinking I didn’t care whether I ever wrote anything ever again. This is where I was when I picked up The Artist’s Way. I hadn’t written much more than emails for a couple of years. The first day that I wrote my morning pages, it was like a weight being lifted from my shoulders. Not just the weight of my writing block, but the weight of my life and everything in it that felt blocked. From those first three pages, I felt a tremendous catharsis.

Now I look forward to my morning writing every day. I write without paragraphs or punctuation. I write about things that I’ve never dared to write about before. I write in the open, in front of my family. I leave my journal where Scott or the girls can see it. (Not as an invitation, but because I don’t want to hide it in fear or shame. So far, no one has read it, as far as I know.) Many mornings, I simply “dump” my fears and negative feelings onto the paper, but many others I record ideas and find inspiration. The pages are not meant to impress anyone or prove anything, except that the process of writing them is meaningful, helpful, and for the most part enjoyable for me. Through the act of writing them, I have become more honest, more willing and able to examine myself, and less fearful.

11/8

1. How many days this week did I do my morning pages? Every day.

2. Did you do your artist date this week? I went to a used bookstore and looked for alterable books, and I bought two that I liked. Then I went to the library and browsed the art section for a few minutes. I borrowed the book Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, which Diane at the Inner Spirit Arts blog mentioned this week in her first Art Every Day Month (AEDM) post. I thought it sounded like an interesting book when she mentioned it, but I wasn’t specifically looking for it at the library when I came across it. (A little synchronicity there?*)

3. Were there any other issues this week that you consider significant for recovery? The whole “recovery” slant of this book really bothers me, and I remember this being worst in the first few chapters. It’s not that I don’t think that I have anything to “recover” from (don’t we all?), but I don’t like the way Cameron encourages placing blame on people from the past (parents, teachers, lovers, friends) for one’s problems in the present. She seems to think that transferring bad feelings about oneself to other people will get rid of them, but the bad feelings remain. They’ve just been focused elsewhere.

My parents were far from perfect. But they, too, had parents and teachers and unhealthy pressures from others and society, and their parents had parents and teachers, and so on. Blame solves nothing. We’re all human beings doing the best that we can at any given moment. Most of the time, we are doing what we think is right, given the knowledge that we have. The same can be said for Cameron herself. She wrote this book in the 80s, when codependency and blame were all the rage. (From what I can tell, however, she seems to continue to support this theory today.) It is rare that a person intentionally and consciously hurts someone else. When they do, it’s because they themselves are hurting. Anyway, with these misgivings, I move on to week two.

(*Speaking of synchronicity, last week I came across $50 in Christmas money from last year that I thought I had spent. Just in time to begin AEDM, I was able to purchase some new art supplies!)

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Written by cherapple

8 November, 2009 at 10:28 am

Posted in Artist's Way

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