Heads up, this post is a bit of a vent. And also a warning.
Many of my past posts have been about the deep shadow work that I have done over the winter months. Much of it has gone very well in that it has opened me up to many of my own deep seeded issues. And since I finally could name and understand them, I was able to deal with those issues. The entire endeavor has helped me to move forward in my spirituality and relationships better than I ever could have on my own. I know I’m not finished, but I’m quite pleased with the results so far.
I’m at a spot now where I could pause that deep work, so I decided to take a break and pick up another endeavor to fill my time. This task, I had hoped, would be a bit lighter than the places that I have been going to so often. And, I thought it would help me heal from some of that intense work. It would also give me time to replenish my emotional stamina for the next round.
So I picked up my copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
The Artist’s Way is a 12 week course to help you become comfortable as an artist. It doesn’t matter whether it’s painting, writing, composing music or other endeavor, this book helps you clear blockages in order to do your best work. It’s a powerful course; I had tried it several years ago, and realized that I was not ready for it. Feeling like I could handle it now after my deep dive into the Shadow, I thought I would pick it up again and see what treasures of knowledge I could mine out of the work. I was especially hoping it would help me get into writing stories again.
As a child I used to write a lot. I wrote the occasional poem, but my favorite thing was to write fictional stories. I would sit for hours after school was over, with the permission of my computer room teacher, writing out the stories that I had in my head. Of course these stories never made it in front of anyone else’s eyes; they were for me alone. But the comfort and escape that they gave me was extremely powerful and very necessary in the troubled world that I lived in back then.
But suddenly, without warning, I stopped writing. I’m still not very sure why I stopped. All I remember is that I was ridiculed for it. It could have been me that ridiculed myself even. I just stopped doing it, and that stop lasted until recently, when a story popped out of my head unexpectedly.
Pleased with my recent short story and remembering how much comfort writing was, I tried to get back into it. From a non-fictional standpoint, I think it’s going pretty well, as the results are for all to see here at my current blog. But the fiction I loved to write before eluded me. So it was I decided to pick up The Artist’s Way again.
The exercises in the book are wonderful. Ms. Cameron does an excellent job of setting up your practice with what she calls ‘morning pages’, and then eases you back into creative activity by first finding your safe place to create from. Once you have established these practices, she takes you into others that are specifically meant to guide your creativity and allow you to be creative in whatever endeavor you choose. The exercises seemed much lighter than the past three months, so it just felt right to pick up the book and allow myself time to stretch myself from a creative perspective, safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t going to go very deep into the Shadow.
Boy, was I wrong.
I read once somewhere that the spiritual and creative centers in your brain are essentially the same areas, and that the blocks for these can sometimes be one in the same. I’m not sure if that is true, but now I realize they are at least relevant to each other if they are not connected outright. You see, the exercises not only started to uncover creative blocks that I had with writing; they uncovered new facets of the spiritual blocks I thought I had dealt with. Yet again, issues came back like unwanted house guests, planning to stay with me as long as they could to mooch a place to sleep and eat my food.
At first, I didn’t mind. This was simply just going to be one topic that I write about. I needed topics, after all. So when I completed the first few exercises I started to write poems again. And the poems I was writing were dealing with those spiritual issues. They were about the relationships I had to the Gods, or about the Fibromyalgia I deal with on a day to day basis. They were constructive, and I am very proud of these first few endeavors. I was so proud of the first poem I wrote I posted it here, and soon five more were written, every one of them just as dear to me. I found my poems were expressing things I didn’t think I could ever get out. And even though I was proud of it, it was still just poetry. It wasn’t the fictional writing that I desired to do. And it was still eluding me.
Then, something came up this weekend. Something from the Shadow that I had not yet dealt with. I was actually planning on holding off this particular work until I had rested more. But this issue would not stay silent any longer, and made it known to me that I have to deal with it NOW.
‘OK,’ I thought, ‘I can do this. I’ll just pull out my journal and my cards and…’
‘NO!’ I felt and heard within my head. ‘Write a story about it’.
‘You wanted to write a story, so write a story about this issue and deal with it through the story.’
In defiance, I did try to work through some of the issues the way I had been doing during the winter, with no such luck. I guess the only way I’m going to get through this now is to write a fictional story about it.
I won’t share the expletives that went through my head once I realized this was my only choice.
I’m still a bit flabbergasted. Sure, there was a bit of inspiration in my fictional writing oh so long ago from my mundane life, but to work through an entire aspect of an issue with a written story? This one is new to me. And I’m going to have to make it work somehow.
I DID say I wanted to start writing again. The Gods simply gave me the topic.
It’s alright. You can laugh.