Monday, August 18, 2008

Writing and The Artist's Way

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron was mentioned at one of my writing lists on Sunday. Ah! I own that one. I just saw it…right…there!

Early last spring—or it may have been mid-winter—someone told my daughter Lilo about it. Thinking it might be a good read for both of us, I bought it. But both of us were busy with school so neither of us had gotten around to it yet. Why didn’t someone mention it three months ago? It’s a 12-week course! I started it this week and classes at Kent State resume on Monday. I am registered for 18 credit hours! Shakespeare, African-American Literature, Intermediate Spanish I, Modeling Algebra and five hours on my senior project/honors thesis (writing a novel in my final two semesters in undergrad studies. What’s one more “class” of independent study?)

Cameron advises that this concept is not just for artists. It’s for writers, lawyers, doctors, anyone else who feels stifled, held back from achieving in the areas of their artistic abilities. But here’s something she said that hit me where I live:

“Intended fiction writers often go into newspapering or advertising.” (27)

Mea culpa. I was mother to two young daughters and spent much of some nice weather sitting outside with pen and notebook scribbling a bodice burner the likes of Rosemary Rogers’ style. It was REALLY moving along. The kids were content playing outside in the sand and riding bikes and playing house, and I was content playing with words. I should not have been surprised that I could write that story. I was born to write fiction!

I shouldn’t have been surprised when the economy crashed and I had to go to work. Actually, I wasn’t surprised. I still remember the day I thought, “Things will never be the same again.” It was about 1980. So, I knew instinctively what was coming. So, I went to college but was forced to drop out before I finished. I ended up working in the newspaper business. And one day as I was laying out newspaper pages at my editor’s work station, I thought, “I am 46 years old. I can’t continue to do this. I have to make a choice: work for newspapers until I retire or write my fiction. I can’t do both.”

I couldn’t bear to give up my fiction writing. My husband couldn’t bear to give up my paycheck. I quit my job. Missed newspaper work. Started my own newspaper—which required more hours than before. And so, I suspended pressing of my paper, not because it failed. It didn’t. People loved it! But I couldn’t work 60-plus hours a week when I had children to raise and they figured majorly into why I had quit my job.

So, though this seems a tangent, actually it is not. I have started writing my “morning pages,” sorting through thoughts and feelings and concerns from all of the years I have been breathing. I have my first day’s “blurts” and “affirmations” completed. I allow myself to write because that was part of my plan when I quit my job, whether my husband can grasp the concept or not. And writing was a part of God’s plan for me or He would never have given me the talents I possess.

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