What The Dream Said

 

birdsonwithbluefeathers.detail
‘Bird Son With Blue Feathers’-detail

I am asleep.

I’m dreaming.

I’m sitting in a rowboat.  The boat is all wood.  We, the boat and I, are floating on a deep pond.  A fir and cedar forest rises beyond.  The water is rimmed by a grey rock beach.  The boat and I are still.

I watch a small, black and white cat step from the forest, across the beach, and into the water.

The cat swims, and then dives deep.  ‘I didn’t know cats could do that,’ I say.

I can see her, as though I am under water too.  The cat catches a large fish in her mouth, swims back to the surface, and returns to the beach.

She eats the fish.  She looks very satisfied with herself.

I wake.

I write my morning pages after breakfast.  Purple ink today.  It is snowing again.  The thermometer says -10 degrees Celsius.  The forecast says expect the same through this coming weekend.  Hmmm.  My eyes are beginning to get hungry for green.

I write out my dream.  I hear my voice again.  ‘I didn’t know cats could do that.’  I again feel my astonishment at something unexpected and new.  Since when do cats not only swim, but swim underwater?

Tigers swim, I write in my pages.  So do jaguars.  Why not small, black and white cats?

Why not me?  I am Cat.  I love swimming, and my dad taught me to dive.  I know how to dive cleanly and well.

If I dive deep, I will catch the words.  I will catch my book.

I sit very still.  My pen has stopped moving.  Exactly what Natalie says not to do.

The dream is talking to me.  I start writing again, to catch the words.

This second draft I am creating—I need to dive deep.  The dream says I’ve only been paddling along the surface, even staying safely on the beach in some parts of the story.

If I want my book to be fully realized, and I do, I can’t stay on the surface.  The book isn’t here.  The words and feelings I want are down below.

The pond is deep and clear and full of flashing, silver words.  I love words.  There is nothing to fear.  I know how to swim and dive and imagine and write.  I am good at all these things.

The dream says, take a breath, and dive.

The dream says, cats can do this.

___________________________

Natalie Goldberg’s first rule of writing practice is ‘Keep your hand moving.’  She also says ‘Shut up and write’.  I’ve invented a new writing rule for myself, ‘Shut up and dive.’  All of Natalie’s books are my favourites.  You likely already know Writing Down The Bones.  So go read The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life With Language, Atria Books, 2013.  Really, the true secret of writing is in there.  Natalie spills the beans.  Thank you, Natalie, for showing me a way of being a writer, and spilling the beans.  http://nataliegoldberg.com/

 

 

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/

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

List my obsessions

I rode a river of words and heard wisdom (Bryan)
I rode a river of words and heard wisdom (Bryan)

 

Natalie Goldberg, in her book Writing Down the Bones, has a great subject for writing practice.  List your obsessions.  Then she says, go beyond that.  Use them.  Harness their power because they are going to show up in your writing whether you want them or not.

True.

The past three weeks my obsessions have been showing up bigtime.  Not so much in my writing as in my life in general.  Moving house shakes everything up.  All that organized chaos lets things loose and drops things in unexpected places.  It pulls off the covers of everything that has been hiding and that has been hidden.

I have not written a list of my obsessions for a very long time.  It is obviously time that I do.

I am making a rule for this list.  Each obsession has to be one word.  Otherwise I can see me trying to explain or deny or qualify the obsession I am listing.

One word gets things down to their essence.

Do I want to set a number to stretch myself?  I have to list at least x number of obsessions, or should I just write until I can’t think of any more?  Write until I can’t think of any more.  Okay, that is two rules for my list of obsessions.

Here goes.  List my obsessions.  One word for each.  Go!

Continue reading “List my obsessions”