Read and Create!

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Even in my elementary brain, reading and writing have gone together like peas and carrots or coffee and cream. I wanted to grow up to be the next Erma Bombeck, but discovered I just wasn’t that funny. It’s not that I can’t elicit grins during conversation, but crafting my writing to be funny feels like committing fraud, when people who know me would never say, Well, isn’t she a laugh a minute? Or She should be on television! People who know me are more prone to talk about my work ethic or my character, not my sense of humor.

Yet even us sad sacks (a term used loosely to describe everyone who isn’t innately funny, which would be 99.99% of the population) can write valuable words, and should! This week’s read is about the art of breathing life into your self. If you haven’t read The Artist’s Way, you need to. Male or female or in between, young or old or very young or very old, everyone may benefit from this book. Don’t let the title fool you into believing it is for latent artists who can’t sell their landscapes. It is for the flair of creativity residing in the least of us.

I read this book on the eve of becoming a bead artist, which led to a marvelous decade of creating lass beads and traveling the country to trade fairs to sell them. I loved the art and the gypsy lifestyle. When China flooded the market with cheap beads the market for my handmade work collapsed, and I shifted into another love. Life is marked not by age but by seasons, and a successful life is measured by being able to recognize the beginning of each season as well as gracefully letting it go when it ends. Sure, I could have been sour grapes over China’s unfair trade deficit with the US, but in moving forward, I found other loves and have enjoyed them. I periodically go back and reread this book as new ventures dot my life.

Julia Cameron filled her pages with quotes and dialogue and exercises aimed at helping you let that creativity spark into life. I first read the book 23 years ago, and it is being released again for its 25th anniversary celebration. Yes, it is enduring and every bit as relevant now as then. She relates that innate spark of creativity in all of us as being spiritual, and even for a radical Christian such as myself, I found her wording helpful rather than offensive. If you think of the universe as a vast electrical sea in which you are immersed and from which you are formed, opening to your creativity changes you from something bobbing in that sea to a more fully functioning, more conscious, more cooperative part of that ecosystem. She helped me see that whether I like to knit, garden, fix things or arrange furniture or put words on paper, there is an artistic bent inside of me, just itching to escape.

The quotes that line each page are from artists of every discipline and religion known to mankind, so you’ll find inspiration from someone who shares your interests. Her most basic tool is writing morning pages as a way to let loose of conscious thought, being then open to what lies under the surface. Unleashing what lies beneath the surface allows you to connect with whatever you call creativity within the universe. She goes on to offering you assignments to put what you are discovering about yourself into practice.

You can find this book at your library or purchase it online, but save up your pennies and buy your very open hardcover edition. You’ll want to devour the book, write in the margins, and treat it as brain bank. After all, it is, the artist’s way!

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