A few weeks ago I was browsing in a bookstore in my town that sells second-hand books. I picked up a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It was irresistible. The title alone grabbed me by the heart. I’ve never been able to resist a book about the way to anything, beginning with The Way of the Peaceful Warrior . The cover had a beautiful Japanese-inspired painting, which immediately drew parallels to the Tao, another Way. I leafed through it, but could no more have put it down again than not be drawn to it. I bought one of the seven or so copies there were on the shelf.
When I started reading it, I felt as though I had been struck by lightening. It felt so right. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the work, it is a sort of self-administered course that is designed to validate and revitalize the creative person. “Artist” is used in its broadest sense. All creative pursuits are included. I could not put it down. I had to read it through from beginning to end before I could settle down and approach it as a course. Within a couple of days I could feel the ground shifting under me, or me shifting the ground under me, I can’t say which. As I am blessed with a family and friends that are extremely creative, I wanted to buy copies for some of them. When I went back to the store to do so, there was only one left on the shelf.
The same day I went back, I happened to be browsing in a wonderful store on the same street that stocks only artistic works of various kinds: paintings, pottery, sculptures, blown glass – every kind of beautiful decorative item you could imagine. I wanted a special vase and I found one there. It was while the proprietor was wrapping it that I dashed out to get the book for my friends. What a disappointment to find only one! When I returned to the store where I bought the vase, I showed the book to the proprietor and she told me there had been a major movement around it a few years ago. Figures. I’ll probably be two years late for my own funeral.
I am still working my way through the exercises in the book, sometimes skimping and sometimes going off on a tangent, but I feel completely different since beginning it. Many things have changed in my life since I started, and have interwoven with the changes I have made intentionally as a result of this book.
One major change is that I stopped thinking of writing and painting as hobbies, and started thinking of them as what I am meant to do. I no longer feel guilty about taking the day off to do them, or doing them in preference to other activities people want me to do.
I have found some amazing contacts and inspiration from many sources since beginning this journey, which now feels like a journey with a destination but also with some wonderful experiences along the way. (There’s that word again.)
One wonderful resource is Writers in the Storm. Wonderful tips, amazing people. I feel like they are all old friends I haven’t seen in a long time.