My Pocket Demon

keepingmydemonsatbay
‘Keeping My Demons At Bay’

It’s all grey cloud and wind outside today.  I saw the first leaves fall from the aspens this morning.  More than fall.  They were pulled, snatched by the wind, tossed to the ground before they could ripen.

I’m not ready for bare branches.  I want those brilliant, glorious golds, reds, and oranges shining against the sky.  Then yes, Wind, take the leaves as your toys and let the trees rest.

I am happy to be inside my warm studio today.  Like the wind, I have a new toy to play with, a book of course.

Yesterday afternoon I read 100 Demon Dialogues by Lucy Bellwood.  I read slowly.  Not only read, but looked.  These are one-page drawings.  Lucy is a cartoonist.

I love this book.  I love Lucy’s take on the inner critic, and how she doesn’t push it away (which is my preferred method of interacting with the demon in my pocket).  Instead, through her cartoons, she and her demon have a conversation.

I know I sound surprised.  That’s because I used to do that and mostly ended up either angry or depressed.  The conversations were battles, and my pocket demon won.  However she didn’t win the war.  I continue drawing, continue writing, continue finding ways to create things I love and enjoy.

In her cartoons, Lucy doesn’t see this relationship with her inner demon as a battle.  Instead, they alternately talk, argue, discuss, yell, lay down ultimatums, and hug.  Yes, there are hugs and compassion, both for herself and her demon.

This is new to me.   My pocket demon is a part of me I have fought with throughout my life, not only in my creativity.  I have battled, ignored, silenced without listening, trampled, and left her behind as often as possible.  I’ve never thought to have compassion for my pocket demon, much less hug her.

That’s brutal.

My pocket demon does not ever stop trying to get me to hear her.  I know, in her own weird way, she is attempting to help me and keep me safe from what she perceives as dangers.

Maybe I am doing as the wind, tossing something away before it ripens.

Maybe I need to do as Lucy does, and listen.  Listening costs me nothing and I don’t have to agree with what I hear.

I know my pocket demon mirrors my emotions, usually fear.  As Julia Cameron told me throughout her book The Artist’s Way, emotions are information.  I am a master at hiding things from myself, especially emotions.  Maybe I should listen, hear what my pocket demon has to say, and find out what is going on in the background that I am not seeing.

Honestly, not sure I want to.

Which tells me something is coming to the surface that I need to know.

Here’s an idea.  Use Lucy’s book to talk with my pocket demon.  Flip through the pages, find a cartoon that connects with my heart.  Oops, all of them, but let’s do this one at a time.

Choose that one cartoon, and start writing.  Have a conversation with my pocket demon, and let fly.  No one else needs to read this.  Toss the writing afterwards, if I want to, or maybe keep it because it’s the seed for a future blog post.

I can do this.

Pocket demon, sweetie, we are about to get cozy.

Thank you, Lucy, for sharing and showing me something I needed to see.

________________________

In this post:

Lucy Bellwood, book 100 Demon Dialogues, Toonhound Studios, 2017.  https://lucybellwood.com/

Julia Cameron’s books are rich with ideas on working with pocket demons aka the inner critic.  I frequently use Supplies: A Troubleshooting Guide For Creative Difficulties, Penguin Books, 2003.  https://juliacameronlive.com/

Kim Piper Werker’s book Make It Mighty Ugly, Sasquatch Books, 2014, is another resource loaded with ideas.  My copy of Kim’s book is dog eared, underlined, highlighted, and stuck full of post it notes.  https://www.kimwerker.com/

When all else fails, chocolate, good music, a comfy chair, and my latest fiction read.

Natalie says, Go!

 

Upsidedown Heart (sketchbook June 2013)
Upsidedown Heart (sketchbook June 2013)

I have read all of Natalie Goldberg’s books, several times over. Underlined and highlighted and written in the margins and inside the covers. Sometimes I listen to her audio books while I work in my studio at my easel. Do writing practice, just for fun, to see what appears. Do writing practice, with purpose, my way of getting first drafts down onto the page with my wild words intact.

I love Natalie. She is all about writing and creating, attitude and determination. I’ve read and listened so often, I now have a Natalie voice inside me. She urges me on as I create words and images. Keep your hand moving, I hear, ten minutes, go! And I do.

My Natalie voice is busy today, and here is the result:

Natalie says, six lines, go!

November, 2:03pm, snow, and wind through my window.

My toes are cold.

Hammering next door

and a saw humming two doors farther.

My solar power Japanese lucky cat waves her paw at me.

What to do with the rest of my life.

 

Natalie says, six lines, go!

Thursday afternoon. Snow and cloud.

This summer’s crows calling, feed me mama.

I understand that.

My pen is fat in my fingers, awkward.

I love it anyhow for its four colours of ink.

No place to go where I am not me.

 

Natalie says, ten lines, go!

There’s a space in me where joy moves in and out like the tide.

It tastes of salt and honey

sounds like wind and voice

touches hot and cold like water

looks like deep winter stars

smells of warm slow cedars.

It puddles round my feet.

My heels sink into its softness.

This is who I am.

Nothing left of me to call me.

_____________________________________

In this post:

Natalie Goldberg   http://nataliegoldberg.com

My favourite Natalie books—Writing Down the Bones, Living Color, and Thunder and Lightning