Last month I watched a live interview with Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. I had read the book five years ago and began writing morning pages. I thought that was a good enough start and resisted putting her other tools to use. It worked for a while and then I lost my way.
After struggling for years with writing a memoir, I came across the London Writers’ Salon. Joining that supportive group of writers has enabled me to commit to daily writing and within a few short months, I have been able to finish the manuscript. I am now in the throes of editing, editing and editing. Who knows how many more edits will be required to make this little gem shine.
Listening to Julia Cameron I realised I needed to revisit the Artist’s Way and recommit to some of her principles. My morning pages were going well but as for the rest of it, I could see I was avoiding key pieces of her advice. Like the artist’s date for example.
Commit yourself to a weekly artist’s date, and then watch your killjoy side try to wriggle out of it.
She was right of course. The idea of an artist’s date is to allow yourself at least two hours a week to have a playdate with yourself, to do something that brings joy and is self-nurturing. It has to be a solitary activity, but dogs are permitted.
The first week I took Zoë to the Botanic Gardens in Orange. I found solace in walking in the rain and enjoyed finding various paths that led to different areas for me to explore. I then wanted to complete the date with lunch at their café, but I was 15 minutes late. Disappointed, I had a piece of cake I didn’t really want. Annoyed at myself, I drank my tea, ate the cake, and left. I wasn’t so sure that this had been a successful date but was willing to have another go the following week.
The next Saturday I began to wriggle and squirm. Still, I was determined to do it. I found that my local cinema was showing Ticket to Paradise with Julia Roberts and George Clooney. Why not? So, I went to see it. Surprisingly, I felt quite comfortable on my own in the cinema but was less than impressed with the movie. The plot was so predicable that I worked out the ending within the first five minutes. Ho hum.
Yesterday, I decided to go for a drive up Mt Canobolas with Zoē. We drove the potholed roads past stunning wineries and beautiful homes. Then I turned left onto the windy road up to the summit only to find that it was closed for redevelopment. I did a three-point turn and headed towards Mt Canobalas Lake instead.
I noted that the café was open, but decided to walk around the lake first. Zoë had to stay on her lead which she didn’t mind as she had plenty of interesting smells to explore. I quite liked being out on the track on my own. There were interesting cloud formations and new growth on trees which I photographed. Yet I was restless within me, even though this was exactly the kind of activity that always soothed my soul. I think I was about three quarters of the way around the lake before I stilled my mind and relaxed into the activity. Time for a cup of tea, I thought. But once again, I missed the opening hours by 15 minutes. Is this an omen?
I have no idea what I will do next week. I’m running out of ideas. There are a couple of art galleries I could visit or maybe there is a free course I can attend. A week to go and I can feel the struggle already.
You are likely to find yourself avoiding your artist dates. Recognise this resistance as a fear of intimacy – self intimacy.
Ok Julia I hear you, but let me tell you, the struggle is real.