Writing Home

1.'Laid to Rest 80,000...Spirits (east)'--Cat Fink
Laid To Rest 80,000 Obstructing Spirits (east)

I moved to my southern studio in late March.  It takes a couple weeks to find rhythm and routine when I shift from one studio and home to the other.  I’m always a bit off balance during those two weeks, but I notice this time it is seven weeks plus and I am still not settled.

I know that I haven’t been writing my morning pages.  When I count back, I see three days written out of the fifty-three days I have been here.  “Not very good,” my mind comments on the obvious.

It’s a direct route for me, from an absence of morning pages to an absence of writing and drawing as my daily priority.  Morning pages are the doorway.  They remind me how vital creating is to my life, and how I am not paying attention to something that is breath for me.

Not only am I not paying attention to what I need, I am not allowing myself to choose that creating comes first in my day.

Do I not love myself enough to let myself do the thing I love?

This is a new studio and home.  I am taking care of the new-home tasks, and not taking care of myself and my creative practice.

No one is pushing me to do the home tasks first.  There is only me pushing me, and  I need to quit pushing.  Better yet, I need to write my morning pages because always, solutions and the right choice show up in those pages.  Balance shows up.

Sigh.

Here I am, reaching for balance in my life again.

When I don’t write morning pages, I am no longer at home to myself.  I am not living in the centre of me, my life, and my creativity.  No surprise, then, that I am currently out of sorts and resenting the to-do list I wrote.

This is an old pattern, putting all else before my creative needs.  I struggled with it in art school, and made it the theme of my graduating body of work.  I’ve been through this so many times, I thought I had it solved.  I should be more like a friend’s mother, who frequently served burned dinners because she was at the other end of the house, painting in her studio.  She had her priorities right.  I should hang one of her paintings (I have five) on my studio wall, just to remind me.  Yes, put that on the to-do list.

This is all about choice and loving myself.  The choice is always mine to give myself permission and do something I love.  The choice is always mine to make creativity my first priority.  I choose, again.  Write my morning pages, find my centre, then write and draw myself home.

______________________

In this post:

Morning pages come from Julia Cameron and her book The Artist’s Way: 25th Anniversary Edition, Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.  I purchased my first copy in 1994, the year before I entered art school.  I have two more copies, 2002 editions, with my teaching notes scribbled all over the margins and end papers.  That first one saved me in 1994.  Thank you, Julia.  http://juliacameronlive.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/

Resisting Resistance

Cat Fink--'Old Coyote Trick (sticks and stones)'
Old Coyote Trick (sticks and stones) — Cat Fink

I wake up in an I-don’t-want-to-do-anything mood this morning.

I push through my morning routine.  I do my set of shoulder and neck stretches.  There is a flash of “that feels good” when I finish my last stretch, but it’s not enough to crack my mood.

I feel, as I eat breakfast, the desire to remain here at the table, reading.  The book is good, Closer To The Heart by my favourite fantasy writer Mercedes Lackey.  I do not want to put the book down, but this is more than desire to read a good book.  I am resisting moving into my studio and beginning my creative day.

I love drawing and writing.  Yesterday I played in the small sketchbook I received from the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project 2018.  No resistance showed up.

Today, though, there is a brick wall, ten feet high with “I don’t want to” stamped all over it.  I’m on this side.  My drawing and writing are on the other.

I know the trick.  Find the door in the wall.  If no door, then a ladder.  Maybe a bulldozer (I like that).  Or maybe I need help.

Asking for help is never my first choice.  Sometimes it should be.  Okay, help it is.

I reluctantly drop my book mark at page 148 of Mercedes’ book, leave the kitchen table, and move to my studio. I take my morning pages book from the pile of papers just to the right of me.  I pull a Mickey Mouse pencil from the collection sitting in the Starbucks grande frappaccino cup.  Morning pages are my first and biggest help.  I’m ready.

I start where I am.  Kicking my toes against this brick wall of resistance.  Leaning my back against it and muttering, “This feels crappy.”  And then adding, “You’re in my way.”

I built this wall.  I’m in my own way.

I begin wondering what it is I don’t want to do, that has put me in this mood. Continue reading “Resisting Resistance”

What Happens When I Don’t Write My Morning Pages

whenitookitallapart-150ppi
‘When I Took It All Apart, There Was Nothing Left’

Here’s what happens when I don’t write morning pages for three and one-half months.

I get bitchy. Make that all caps. BITCHY.

I also get stuck. There’s a log jam of Mount Everest proportions inside my writing-drawing-artist-self.

It’s very uncomfortable.

Actually, it effing hurts.

I have a build-up of creative need. A need to connect with what I am feeling and thinking. A need to connect with my creative energy. Make stuff. Write. Draw. A need to connect with other creators.

I am fulfilling all of these needs exactly right now. First I write morning pages. Yay! And about bloody time too. And now I am writing this post.

Yesterday I decided I’d had enough of paying attention to every room in our new home except my studio. Enough of setting up all other spaces except the one space that is vital to me.

Vital only to me.  Note the ‘only’. I set up all the family-used spaces first. I do what is expected of me. I don’t do what I need for myself alone. I push me to last.

I am such a good girl.

I am sick of being such a good girl.

This morning I get angry enough to send my husband and son retreating (running) to the workshop and the downstairs suite. They get the hint. No more Mrs. Good Girl.

Amazing what not writing morning pages does to me. Here is the list.

Not writing morning pages throws me off balance. Instead of moving between my need to create and the needs of living a life shared with others, I attend only to others’ needs. I lose sight of, and feel for, what I need.

Not writing morning pages, I lose the truth of myself. I am an artist, a writer, a creator, and it is necessary I do this every day.

Not writing morning pages, my family forgets my daily movement into my creativity. They forget the habit of saying, “She’s creating. Don’t interrupt her. Leave her alone.”

Not writing morning pages, I stop standing my ground and claiming the time and space I need to write and draw and create. Not only physical time and space. Mental, emotional, and spiritual time and space as well.

Not writing morning pages for three and one-half months requires the dynamite of anger to clear the way and get everything flowing again.

Really, it is much easier to claim my space, write the morning pages, and make my stuff every day. No log jam. No need to shove and struggle until I finally blow up. No need to hurt myself (or others).

Apparently, I have to remind myself of what happens when I don’t write my morning pages.

Do yourself a kindness.

Write your pages.

__________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Julie Cameron’s morning pages, from The Artist’s Way, Tarcher-Putman, 1992, pages 9 -18.  http://juliacameronlive.com/

Morning pages do so many things for me and my creativity.

Morning pages move me past my internal critic.  https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/2016/03/31/writing-past-the-internal-critic/critic

They are the secret agent who clears the way and connects my mind and heart, readying me to draw and write.  https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/2016/04/30/morning-pages-to-write-or-not-to-write/

Here is the irony.  Last week I wrote about creating daily, then promptly did not do that for the next week.

I am serious when I say do yourself and kindness and write your pages.

Clearing Out, Letting Go, Creating New

3.'Laid to Rest 80,000 Obstructing Spirits (south)'--Cat Fink
‘Laid to Rest 80,000 Obstructing Spirits (south)’

I’m back.

I have a home of thirty years cleared out and sold, all in the space of the last four weeks.

Whew and wow.

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a few years.  And suddenly it is now.  Let’s quit talking and do it.  And we have.  Done.

I feel lighter.  Excited and exhausted both.  There is a new horizon out there.  Can’t quite see it yet, but I can feel it.  It feels like home.

After thirteen years of seasonal moving between two places that didn’t truly feel like home, I am approaching something that does.  How strange that I don’t know what it looks like or exactly where it is, yet the feeling is clear and certain.  I feel my feet on the ground.  I feel the path in front of me.

Some small part of me is trying to not trust this, saying ‘scary’.  The biggest part of me is saying ‘This feels right, feels good.  I trust this.’

Trust.  A blessing gained from growing into my creative self, trusting the artist-me who knows who she is and what she wants.  I am now all artist-me.  Not only creating image and word.  Creating my life.

I remember doing Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way tasks of clearing out and making room.  I’m not sure she meant a whole house, but then again, she might have.  I’m laughing, thinking how I’ve taken task number eight in week six to the extreme.

The task says, “Clearing: Any new changes in your home environment?  Make some.”

Make some changes?  Have I ever!

______________________________

In this post:

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, 2002 Edition, Tarcher/Putnam.  http://juliacameronlive.com/  The clearing tasks are on pages 90 and 114.  Julia connects clearing out to creativity on pages 83, 197, and 198.  “You’re either losing your mind—or gaining your soul.  Life is meant to be an artist date.  That’s why we were created.’’  Page 198.

I’d say the quote from my last post applies even more so.

“My barn having burned down

I can now see the moon.”

Poet-samurai Mizuta Masahide

 

Morning Pages–to write or not to write

books.600ppi

I have a secret agent who helps me create.  ‘’Call me Pages, Morning Pages,’’ she says, and smiles.  She holds sharpened pencils in one hand, sheets of paper in the other.

Yes, I am talking about Julia Cameron’s invention, morning pages.  Three handwritten pages, whatever comes to mind, each day before I move to the writing or drawing, coaching or blogging.  Letting my mind wander.  Letting thoughts surface and have their say.  Letting emotions move through me, easily or not.  Letting beliefs and memories show up to say ‘notice me’.  Planning to do this, then this, and this.

I’ve been writing morning pages for years, since October 1994 to be precise.  Not constantly, but mostly, daily.  They show me who I am in this moment, where I have been, where I am going, where I’d like to go and what I’d like to do.

These daily pages are my place to gripe loudly and to discover inspiration.  Yes, both, sometimes the first leading to the second.  Funny that, and true.  Reassuring that I can be off balance, feel it, then move on and into my creative self, the clouds having cleared.

This, for me, is why morning pages are my secret agent.  They clear my way to walk into my creative self, whatever I am doing this day.  Pages open me to a clear mind and a clear heart, pair my mind and heart so they partner each other in whatever I am creating.

This is when my writing, drawing, coaching, and blogging are their best.  This is when my mind and heart speak as one voice.  Try this, they say, and I do.

What comes of this mind-heart partnership are choices, actions, and creations that connect me to other people, heart and mind to heart and mind.  Connection, communication, understanding.  Realizations that are clear, heart-felt, accepting, inspired, wise.

I have my days of resisting my morning pages, even now after twenty-two years.  I don’t feel like it.  I’m too tired.  I’m too lazy.  I want to go direct to my creating and not waste any time.  I need to get other things done.

I have lots of excuses.

None are valid.

I know better, yet I will use the excuse of the day and not write my pages.  I move straight to my creating, bringing with me a mind hazy with complaints and cluttered with random thoughts, a heart holding unexpressed emotions that should have been felt and acknowledged.

For me, this is not the way in which to create.  What I do this day will likely need to be undone tomorrow.  I know this from long experience.  Yet still, once in a while, I have to test it again and choose to ignore writing my morning pages.

What is this resistance, this obstinate choice I occasionally make?

I think I do this to remind myself of why I write my pages.  I re-experience how I feel and think and the not-quality creating that results from a hazy, cluttered, random mind and heart that are not working together.

Today, before I wrote this post, I wrote my morning pages.  True, they were more like noon pages.  That is alright.  The pages got written.  The blog post got created.  And all is right in my world because my secret agent was on the job today.

‘‘Call me Pages, Morning Pages.’’

Thanks, Pages.

__________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Julie Cameron’s morning pages, from The Artist’s Way, Tarcher-Putman, 1992, pages 9 -18.  http://juliacameronlive.com/

Morning pages also move me past my internal critic.  https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/2016/03/31/writing-past-the-internal-critic

 

Calling Inspiration

banffwall.13.blog
Cat’s World–come and play!

Where do ideas come from?

I’m reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Just past halfway through. I love this book. A conversation about creativity and creating and living a creative life. There are parts of this book I wish I had written. I didn’t because they did not come to me. I am glad they came to Elizabeth, and glad she has shared them.

Elizabeth says let yourself live a creative life. She gives you permission, if you need it, on page 90. What she is really saying—you do not need anyone’s permission. Just create a life for yourself out of what you love.

How do you make a creative life?

You let inspiration and ideas in.

And where do ideas and inspiration come from?

Elizabeth’s ideas visit and stay if she is ready and available. Inspiration, looking for a partner who is ready to play. If she isn’t ready or available, inspiration moves on to someone else. So, not really her ideas. Rather, ideas and inspiration moving in the air around her, around all of us, all the time.

Natalie Goldberg says the same thing in a different way. Inspiration and capability as the water table below the surface of the earth. It’s always there and we tap into it through our effort and action.

Julia Cameron talks of dropping down the well when she is engaged in listening through writing. Moving below normal consciousness into the stream of ideas that live below the surface and flow through all of us. Alternatively, Julia describes inspiration and ideas as radio waves, always being broadcast on all frequencies.

This is where my ideas come from. Inspiration Radio. I can tune in any time. It is always broadcasting. 24/7, as my son describes it.

I love this. Ideas and inspiration are always available to all of us. Always flowing, always moving around and beneath us.

How do we connect with this flow?

Elizabeth’s words: ready and available.

Natalie’s words: effort and action.

Julia’s words: engaged in listening through writing.

Action. We connect through our action. I am writing and drawing, and my action is an invitation to inspiration to connect with me. I am open, ready, available, tapped in, listening. I am saying, come and play with me.

I am not waiting for inspiration to show up first, and then acting on it. I am acting first, and this opens a space for the ideas to come in.

There is something else going on as well.

When I am writing and drawing, I am fully present. I’m not in my mind, thinking over yesterday or planning tomorrow. I am right here, right now, with the words and lines and colours. With the feel of the pen and the pastel in my hand, and the sound they make as I move them across the paper. I am in my senses and my body, and in my heart too, because I am doing what I love.

I am sure that love is an equal part of this. I’d much rather spend time with someone who loves me, and I will bet that Ideas and Inspiration feel the same way.

There is another piece, before the action and the listening and the loving.

Give yourself big permission. Elizabeth says we don’t need anyone else’s permission to create. Absolutely totally true. We don’t. But most of us need to give ourselves permission.

Give ourselves big permission to play. To waste time and materials. To make ugly art and bad writing and sing out of tune. Give ourselves big permission to hear the crazy idea and the huge inspiration, and big permission to say this is mine and I know we can create this. And then do it.

Ideas and inspiration are always here for us. Learning how to connect with them, partner them, play together and create something from what looks like nothing–this is the magic. And we are all magicians. A creative life is ours for the making.

Say it out loud and with love.

I am a creator. I am a magician.

Inspiration is listening, and she knows an invitation when she hears one.

_______________________

In this post, books full of inspiration and ideas (and don’t just read about creativity, do creativity—it’s actually a verb, not a noun.):

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic, Riverhead Books, 2015   http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down The Bones, Shambhala, 1986 and 2005, and Wild Mind, Bantam Books, 1990   http://nataliegoldberg.com/

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, Tarcher/Putnam, 1992 and 2002, and Walking In This World, Tarcher/Putnam, 2002, and Finding Water, Tarcher/Putnam, 2006   http://juliacameronlive.com/

Lions and tigers and writer’s block

The Wizard Of Oz - original movie poster 1939
The Wizard Of Oz – original movie poster 1939

Think The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 movie with Judy Garland as Dorothy.

Dorothy and Scarecrow and Tin Man are walking through a forest. It is creepy.  The light is dim. They start talking about what might be hiding. Lions. Tigers. Bears. Oh no! They manage to scare themselves silly by the end of the scene, even though there are no lions or tigers or bears. The Cowardly Lion, who they eventually meet, is nowhere near scary.

This is what I have been doing the last two months. Scaring myself silly. Imagining lions and tigers and bears. Blocking the writing on my book.

I’ve been doing other things instead of my book. Useful good things, I tell myself. Yes, true, they are. But it is odd how I do those useful good things first, plan to get to my book writing second, and somehow never get there.

I’m watching this happen. Two months of watching and not doing. I can’t seem to break the pattern. I’m not choosing to. What is stopping me?

Over my years of creating, I have run myself into blocks and scared myself a lot. I see what’s happening and I find my way through. Every time. Except now.

I could blame it on the fact that this is my first experience writing the second draft of a book. I don’t know what to expect, don’t yet know my process for this kind of creating, or how long it might take me. I do know this long at not-writing is too long.

Continue reading “Lions and tigers and writer’s block”