Books by Julia Cameron
There is safety in cynicism.
I should know. I’ve been cruising on irony for years, and when that fails me I fall back on judgment, jealousy, and guilt. Bonus: technology has given me new tools for self-shaming. Yeah, I keep my nose pressed to the Pinterest boards like the proverbial kid with the candy store window. Do my various pins inspire me to live a better life? No, more often than not they show me how very far I’m falling short of my own ideals.
Sick, but true: I like to keep track of all the ways that I’m failing–as a wife, as a mother, as a writer, as a person. It’s cruel and debilitating and totally toxic, yet oddly enough I just can’t seem to get enough.
Who in their right mind would so willingly and consistently punish themselves like that on a regular basis? Um, apparently a lot of us. As creativity expert Julia Cameron writes, “Most of the time when we are blocked in an area of our life, it is because we feel safer that way. We may not be happy, but at least we know what we are–unhappy. Much fear of our own creativity is fear of the unknown.”
Well, I’ve got two blocked areas in my life. When I think of both my writing and my parenting, the word “quagmire” leaps to mind.
Two years ago, I quit my teaching job so that I could focus more intentionally on my kids and my creativity. Our little family would do tons of fun art projects! We’d take spontaneous day trips! We’d engage in constant dramatic play and STEM-related activities! Then, while the children were magically otherwise occupied, I would finally finish and publish my best-selling novel! Of course, this would all happen while keeping a spotless home and cooking up gourmet yet well-balanced meals. My husband would praise me! My fans would adore me! The other co-op preschool moms would secretly envy my constant and intimidating perfection!
Oddly enough, real life hasn’t aligned to my starry-eyed expectations. And my general reaction to the disconnect has born a striking resemblance to the Five Stages of Grief. But I think I’ve finally landed on some level of acceptance… which is probably why I’ve actually got the energy to confront my mother’s block and writer’s block.
Over the next 24 weeks, I’ll be working through both The Artist’s Way and The Artist’s Way for Parents, alternating focus texts each week. Having done The Artist’s Way before, I can attest to its efficacy and overall value. I’m excited to revisit it! I’ll try not to get too navel-gazey here, but I will be blogging about my process. I want to write publicly again. And I also want to offer up some thoughts for other creative mamas. So there you go.
Any encouragement would be appreciated. I’d love some company, too–so grab yourself a copy of either (or both!) books, and do a read/work-along! (Shameless pitch: both titles are readily available at most libraries.)