Writing The Wrong Stuff

archangel (raphael).small
Archangel (Raphael)

Yesterday afternoon was warm and sunny, and I did not resist.  I took myself, my writing, and an iced decaf latte, outside to the porch swing.  I spent most of the afternoon writing backstory for my book, working out why my main character wants what she wants, and laying out her defining misbelief that constantly throws her off track.

Halfway through the writing, I sensed something was off track and it wasn’t the character I was writing about.  It was me.  Somehow I lost the main point and sent myself chasing words down a side track.

I completed the piece anyways, and ended it with “Rats, rats, rats, this is wrong!”

It is not lost on me that I went off track writing about my character’s misbelief that sends her off track.

Today I will go back.

Again, I will write about my character wanting what she wants, and her tricky misbelief.  This time I will deliberately aim the writing in a different direction, and see where I end up.  But first, I’m going to reread what I wrote yesterday.  There may be a gem of an idea I overlooked, one that really does have a place in the story.  Even if I see no gem, I will keep the draft of what I think is wrong stuff.

I keep my drafts because of what I learned and use all the time as an artist.  Sometimes mistakes point me in a direction I had not considered, and sometimes it takes me a while to see it.

I keep my drafts, even the ones that seem wrong, because they tell me where I have been in the story, and they remind me of what wasn’t working and what I didn’t want.  Been there, don’t have to go there again.

I keep my drafts because of my Dad.  He told me once, when I was fourteen and suffering through a high school course I felt was useless, that everything I learn I will use at some point in my life.  I listened, and the words stuck.

So here I am, choosing to find a use for my wrong-stuff-writing, instead of judging it a wasted writing session and tossing the pages.  Even if I discover no gem in the words, it prompted my blog post for today, and that is gem enough.

_______________________

In this post:

I am using the book Story Genius by Lisa Cron, Ten Speed Press, 2016, to guide me through my main character’s backstory.  This book is definitely a gem.   http://wiredforstory.com

The Way Through Is Love

ibuiltmycastles
I Build My Castles in the Sky

I led a writing workshop last Saturday.  In the conversations and the writing, two life experiences showed up common to everyone.

Early in our lives, we discovered we loved creating with words, images, music, or movement.  Then later, someone told us with great certainty that we would never be a writer, an artist, a musician, a dancer, an actor, a you-name-it creative person.  Invariably, the someone making this pronouncement was in a position of authority or trust.  We were told by parents, teachers, and peers.

When this happened to me, the someone was a university art professor.

I heard “You will never be an artist.” and I stopped drawing for seventeen years.  Mine was not the longest gap.  One person in Saturday’s writing workshop was coming back to her love of creating after fifty years.  I have met people who never recovered from the experience.

This happens not only to those in the arts.  This happens to all of us.  We love doing something.  We have a dream.  And then someone says to us, “You will never be.  This will never be.”

Why does someone tell another person, “You will never be.  This will never be.”?

What makes someone so sure they know another person’s future?

I don’t know the answers to the questions I ask.  What I do know is that the way through hearing “you will never be” is love.

I left the visual arts degree program after hearing “you will never be.”  I still grieve the loss.  I wonder what I would be doing now, what kind of life I would have if I had stayed.  And at the same time, I know the life I did have prepared me to return to the art I loved and claim the title of Artist as mine.

During the years of not drawing, I kept my love of making things with my hands.  I found other ways to create.  I crocheted and embroidered and sewed.  I learned to weave, loved it, acquired a floor loom, and took over the extra bedroom in the house as my loom room.  I learned to spin and dye yarn.  My family and friends were the recipients of all this making.

I began calling myself a fibre artist, and loved how I felt when I used those words.  They felt like me.

Then I discovered a new love, weaving tapestry.

I saw complex images in my mind, the tapestries I wanted to weave.  But I discovered I was not able to recreate the images on paper, in preparation for planning the woven piece.

The Universe stepped in to support my love of making, and offered me two things.  My sister introduced me to the book The Artist’s Way, and I discovered there was an art school ten blocks from my home.  I said yes to both.

Love brought me full circle, back to drawing.

My love of creating with my hands would not let me go, and I listened to that love.  It helped me find ways of making that carried me through and healed me of you-will-never-be.

If someone says to you, “You will never be”, let yourself feel the hurt.  Then find a way to walk back into what you know you love, and walk through.  Love is your power.  I believe in you.

_______________________

In this post:

Book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, 25th Anniversary Edition published by Penguin, 2016.  Originally published by Tarcher Putnam in 1992, and republished by Tarcher Putnam in 2002.  Julia’s website is at http://juliacameronlive.com/

My New Year’s Un-Resolution

Cat Fink 'What Gives Me Joy Nov 24 2016 (learning to be me)'
‘What Gives Me Joy Nov 24 2016 (learning to be me)’

There is a scene in ‘Aladdin’, one of my favourite Disney movies, that frequently rises in my mind.

Genie, in the shape of a large bee, is buzzing in Aladdin’s ear, “Be-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e yourself!”  Aladdin is preparing to definitely not be himself as he talks with Princess Jasmine.  In his mind, being himself is not good enough.

I understand this.

Much of my life I have been sure I am not good enough.  I no longer believe this.  Thus, my New Year’s Un-Resolution.

Be Myself.

That’s it.  Two words.

This is not the usual New Year’s resolution.  I am not looking to improve myself.  What I am doing is uncovering my authentic self.

Be Myself.  All day long I ask, is this my choice or someone else’s?  Is this my belief, expectation, value, judgment, idea, or someone else’s?  What is true for me?

I use words to ask myself the question.  I look for the answer in how I feel.

My heart tells me yes, this is me, this is mine.  This feels right and true to me.  Or no, not mine.  This feels wrong and false to me.

I learn from everything and everyone around me.

Sometimes in the learning, I take on things that are not true for me.

Sometimes, it takes time for me to understand that a belief, expectation, value, judgment, or idea does not fit me.  That is okay.  Trying things out and experiencing what happens may be what I need.  Sometimes I must know what I don’t want in order to know what I do want.

So here I am, eleven days into 2018, paying attention to who I really am and discovering what feels true to me.  So far, mostly what I have discovered is that I have un-learning and un-choosing to do.

The ‘un’ in front of ‘resolution’ was a clue.  Yeah, missed that.

No worries.  Being Myself is a work in progress.  I have all year long.

____________________________

In this post:

Animated movie Aladdin, 1992, Disney.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aladdin_(1992_Disney_film)

 

Heaven And Earth

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Winter Solstice

Raven flies overhead

Her wings cut the sky

the sky

into a thousand skies

 

I stand here

bare feet

on red earth

 

Just once to fly

like Raven

Wings cutting

one day

into a thousand days

 

I am earth’s child

Dust clay ashes stone

Blue river pebbles

fill my pockets

Roll round my heart

like joy

 

No place for me

in Raven’s thousand skies

 

I am earth.  I live in this physical body.  I walk a physical place.  The water, fruit, bread, and meat I swallow each day grounds me here, now.

And yet, perhaps not.

Years on from writing the opening words of being only earth’s child, I understand I am also the connection between earth and heaven.  I am spirit created in material form, and I am the spark that gives light to both earth and sky.

This is true for every one of us.

We are the spark and connection between heaven and earth.  We are the lightning bolt that flashes and flies, creating light and heat for all to see and be warmed by.

I am sure I knew this when I was born, having just come from the light and onto the earth.  I am equally sure as I grew up this understanding faded.  The heaviness of the earth shadowed the light in me.  Living here does that sometimes too soon, too often, too harshly.

Living here has me turning the truth on its head.  As a child, I am taught I am two things, a body with a spirit inhabiting it.  I am taught this is the truth, and the world always tells me the truth.

Sometimes I should not believe what the world tells me.

I am one thing, not two things or four things.  I have a body and spirit and heart and mind.  I not only have these things, I am these things, but they are not separate.  I am not meant to be divided into parts.  I am meant to be one whole being, light aligned and in harmony.

I am spirit in material form.  My body is created from spirit, and my spirit is my body.  That includes my heart and mind as well.  All one.

I not only think the truth of this.  I feel the truth of this.  The words come like music to my body’s senses, and they feel balanced, smooth.  They move through my heart and don’t stutter or jar me.  They move through my mind, blend into my thoughts, feel recognized and comfortable.

Spirit in material form.  These words fit like a jigsaw puzzle piece finding its home, nestling into the pieces all around it, making the image whole.

This is how I know truth.  By the feel of it in my body, how it fits into me and makes me whole.  Spirit in material form.  This means as I am now, I am created from both earth and heaven.

Something in me never lost this knowing, even when my light was shadowed.

In my studio I have a collection of stones and feathers.  I have been gathering them for their beauty in my eyes and their feel in my hand since I was two years old.  I construct still life arrangements from them, and draw their magic and beauty onto the paper on my easel.  They are placed around my home, in every room, on shelves, table tops, windowsills, for the eye and hand to enjoy.

Stone and feather.  Earth and heaven.  I have never forgotten.  All my life I have been collecting reminders of who I am.  The light remains within me, no matter how I divide and separate and shadow who I am.

My feet rest on the earth.  My fingertips brush heaven.  All my life Source has been quietly placing stone and feather in my path to remind me, and I have seen and accepted them, picked them up and taken them home, these pieces of myself.

I choose this.  This is my truth.  I am spirit in material form.  Body, mind, heart, spirit.  One whole being of light connecting heaven and earth.

 

Imagining My Power

'7 Crows, A Secret Never To Be Told'detailsmall - Cat FinkTwo nights ago, I dream.

I stand with my son and husband in the centre of an empty street.  No other people.  No cars.  No sound.  All is still.

I look down.  A raven stands beside me.

I look up.  I see ravens sitting on the top edges of the one-storey buildings and on the fences.  They walk on the sidewalks and in the street where I stand.

I lift my arms.  I see feathers, black, sleek, shining.  I see wings.

I am me and I am Raven.

Here in my waking life, I hear raven voices every day.  Ravens live in the tallest firs and cedars near both my studios.  I see them fly overhead, hear the edges of their wings cut the air.  Nothing else sounds like a raven’s wing.

This past summer I watched them teach their young what wings can do.  Watched the young discover joy in their power.  Watched them fall in love with their wings.

When I falter in my drawing or writing, I imagine myself as Raven.  Creator and Healer.  Trickster.  Teacher.  Messenger.  Raven is all magic.  Raven is pure power.

Imagining Raven, I open creation, call word and image, and invite them to play.  My wings cut through fear and hesitation, shatter them like the ice they are.

My Raven eyes see forever.  See what has not been seen.

Imagining Raven, I reach into magic.  I take nothing and create something.  I breathe it real.

Imagining Raven’s power, I move back into my own power to create.  I stand steady in the joy of who I am.  I fall in love all over again with what I can do.

Artists, writers, all creators are Raven.  We have the power to create, to heal and make whole, to trick and tease, to communicate and teach.  We see what has not been seen, and make it visible.  We create something where there was nothing.

We are joy’s magic, and we are the power of love.

________________________

In this post:

If I pay attention, my dreams teach me.  When animal guides show up, I go to the book Medicine Cards, written by Jamie Sams and David Carson, published by St. Martin’s Press, NY, 1999.  The book is accompanied by a deck of animal medicine cards illustrated with the drawings of Angela Werneke.  Book and cards were a Christmas gift from my husband, ten years ago, after I told him animals were appearing in my dreams.  http://jamiesamsbooks.com/medicinecards.cfm

 

My Writing Super Powers

1.'Containers for the Soul'--Cat Fink
‘Containers For The Soul’

I joined lovely, crazy, inspiring Nanowrimo last week. (See the end of this post if you don’t know what that is.)

On day two I discovered I have super powers. Two of them. Talk about excellent timing, when two super powers show up on the second day of a write-a-50,000-words-novel-in-thirty-days challenge.

These are not your usual super hero powers, like flying or invisibility or endless strength. No. My two super powers are common to regular human beings like me.

My first super power? ‘Don’t tell me I can’t do this.’

I’ve had this awesome super power since I was one year old. I know that ‘don’t tell me I can’t do this’ is a disguise for focus, clarity, and strong determination.

Most people I know have this super power. The thing is, they do not recognize it for what it is. They call it by other names, mostly not polite and mostly negative. Stubborn. Not listening. Argumentative. Bitchy. Throwing a tantrum. Crazy. Acting like a child.

I’ve heard those not-nice names thrown at my super power. Here is something else I know. I see a path to a goal. You are not seeing the same path. Your path is different than mine. That’s all. So do not tell me this thing, whatever it may be, is not possible. I know where I am going.

Then there is my second excellent super power—‘failure is not an option.’

Once my first super power has kicked in, my second moves into action.

Like the first, my second super power has other names. Success-oriented. Finding a way through. Using all possibilities. Never a quitter.

Of course, some people may look at me and say blind fool, stupid, willfully ignorant, wasting her time, can’t see the obvious, ignoring the sure outcome.

Again, they are not seeing what I see. That is okay. If we all saw the exact same thing and the exact same path, there would not be this rich world of possibilities around us.

Words have power. How I choose to name something is important. Names point me in a particular direction and a specific way of thinking about that something. And that points me to a specific way of using that something.

Now I am curious. What other super powers within me do I not recognize? What other powers am I calling by the wrong name, and wasting their possibilities?

________________________

In this post:

Nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month.  Find the details at https://nanowrimo.org/  This year is my fifth time at Nanowrimo. The first time, my super powers did not kick in. I quit halfway through the second week at barely 7,000 words, feeling horribly overwhelmed. Every time since then, my powers have kicked in and I’ve completed my 50,000 words by the end of November. Yay me!

 

The First Time I Started Art School

'Coyote's Apples'
Coyote’s Apples

Picture me.

Here I am. Just barely eighteen. It’s Wednesday in the first week of September. I am walking into my first university art class. A first year Bachelor of Fine Arts student. Totally scared, and determined not to show it.

I know two things. I know I want to be an Artist. I know when I draw, time and the world go away. There is pencil, paper, my hand moving, marks on the paper, breath moving in and out of my body, and nothing else.

What I know is not enough to carry me. At the end of the year I transfer to Business Administration.

Here is what I did not know the first time I started Art School.

No one names me. I name myself. I claim Artist for me.

My professors don’t know everything.  But if I am lucky, they are generous and share their experience in creating art.

I am not an empty vessel waiting to be filled. I have knowledge, experience, passion, inspiration, belief, heart, hands, and head.

I know what feels right to me, and what is right for me.

There are as many creative processes and paths as there are creators. What is right and true for me may not be right and true for another.

I create from my heart, from passion and love rather than fear (although fear is information I can use).

My feelings are information and sign posts. Use them.

Use everything, whatever shows up. My entire life is inspiration for creation, if I choose to see it that way.

I have choice. Everything is a choice. Not choosing is a choice. Stuck is a choice. Accepting, or not, anyone’s view of my art is a choice.

Picture me.

Here I am. Thirty-eight years old. It’s Wednesday in the first week of September. I am walking into Art School for the second time. Nervous, and it doesn’t matter who sees it. I know who I am. I know what I don’t know, and what I do know. I know what I need and want. I am Artist. Let the learning begin.

_________________________________

In this post:

What I believe: The list of what I needed to know and didn’t, touches everyone, whether we are Artists or not. The learning never stops. The wanting to know never stops. And we are all Creators.

 

Packing and Unpacking

3crowsletter.600ppi
3 Crows a Letter, 4 Crows a Boy

I am writing this post in the midst of controlled chaos.  Namely, I am packing.  Everything.

Last time I wrote I had just decluttered and sold my home.  I did not have a new home to go to yet.  Now I do.  I also have a moving date, so I am packing with a purpose.  The perfect thing about having already decluttered?  No decisions to make about what to keep and what to let go.  No decisions complicated by memories or by dreams yet to be fulfilled.  That bit is already done.  Yay!

I have a new home with my perfect, amazing, big-with-awesome-light studio.  This is the studio I have been imagining since I began art school.  Twenty-one years of imagining have created me this wondrous place.  There is room for my writing desk and reference books.  Room for my art table and easel and supply shelves.  For my library.  An area with sink and tiled floor for mucky projects.  Storage space.

I saw a studio like this, owned by a master artist, a few years into my art practice.  Always I have remembered it.  Now I have one like it.

A blessing.  A gift of abundance.

I am dancing inside.

I’ve heard tales of artists and writers who freeze up when they finally have the creation space of their dreams.  Like somehow the expectations of results have been upped beyond what they can easily deal with, and it scares them into silence.

I’m mentioning this because when I first walked into this space I said out loud, “Too big.”  It scared me, this huge lovely space made for creating.  This perfect space that could be mine, and I was rejecting it.  This space I had imagined, and I was turning my back on it.

But something interesting happened as I turned my back.  I caught myself in the middle of no.  I felt the abundance being offered me here in this light-filled space.  I stopped, and I began to laugh.  I began to feel joy.  I began to dance with the possibilities of creating image and word right here.  Right here.

In that moment, something unpacked itself and I saw it clearly.  Old beliefs limiting my worth, my abilities, what I do and don’t deserve, what I can offer through my creativity, how big or small I should be.  For the first time, these old beliefs stood fully in the light, and I discovered they are not mine any more.

Oh, I know their ghosts may still show up once in a while, as I create in my new studio.  That’s okay.  They no longer have the same power over me.  When I see my beliefs clearly, I know what to do with them and how to handle the feelings they carry.  I have choice.  They won’t stay long, and I’ll wave goodbye as they leave.

Then I’ll go right back to creating.

_____________________________

A note re unpacking limiting beliefs:

Jennifer McLean teaches a gentle and effective method of releasing old beliefs, emotions, experiences, and trauma.  Spontaneous Transformation Technique (STT) is an easy and quick process to learn and to use.  I know, from personal experience, how beautifully it works in clearing creativity blocks and glitches that slow us down and limit our creative lives.  As a Certified Level 2 Spontaneous Transformation Technique Practitioner, I use STT’s powerful process in my creativity workshops and coaching.  This link will take you to Jennifer’s information page.  http://go.spontaneoustransformation.com/powerhealing