Friday, April 06, 2012

I finally got back to FINDING WATER: The Art of Perseverance by Julia Cameron. Cameron wrote, THE ARTIST'S WAY, which my best friend insisted I read before she died. I didn't bother to pick it up until after she passed away, and she was right, it was very helpful, but FINDING WATER is helping me more than THE ARTIST'S WAY in the sense that the book is about persevering as an artist when things get difficult, when we are blocked, when we are jealous, when we aren't sober, when we are simply struggling to be creative. The margins are filled with inspirational and healing quotations. I will write a few here, but I also want to mention that I've been reading Afaa Michael Weaver's MULTITUDES: POEMS SELECTED AND NEW, which is also very helpful to me as a poet. Here's a quote from the introduction which helped me see through a lot of things which have blocked me; it is written by Arnold Ramperstand:

"Another strong impression here is of a poet confident about the subjects of his art; Weaver knows what he must write about, and he is not easily distracted by fashion or politics."

For too long I've allowed fashion and politics to interfere with the pleasure and contentedness that writing can bring us. I have learned lately to write past these things, and I am hoping to continue on my journey towards self-affirmation and confidence in my own work, which has been flailing for years. Also, healing has been a full-time job for me. Writing is a means to staying alive for me. In the darkest times, creativity has helped me survive. Whether the poems are good or bad is irrelevant. Some people oppose this ideology of sorts, but I have found that writing or creating something in this life is a means to finding the beauty in the world. Creativity helps us find what helps us live, helps us breathe deeply and full, and find the fearlessness necessary to face the next day.

Here's a quote which was very helpful in that I actually wrote 5 poems after reading it. It helped me sit with this loneliness and this solitude and unfortunate depression and find some peace.

"Just be at the keyboard, in the hands of God [the universe for me]. Wait, listen, love the silence, and eventually the silence will sing for you, as it always has and always will."

Also, not working, at times leads me to doubt my ability to write, to succeed, to fight my diagnosis, to an unyielding loneliness, which I fight daily. Not being in academia, or I should more aptly say, not fitting in in academia led me in someways to doubt my ability, to question what I was doing with myself. I feel at times the ultimate outsider with terrible networking skills, and a slew of other difficulties which make it difficult to write, difficult to read. But close friends tell me these struggles, the PTSD and the other embarrassing diagnosis, help me be a poet. It took me years before I could say I was a "poet" without feeling like a fraud. And the feeling of failure has haunted me. So this particular book has moved me and taught me quite a bit regarding comparisons, jealousy, injustice, snobbery, bitterness and so forth. So, the following quote is more a way for me to see the strength I possess in not necessarily "fitting in" or being the right "fit," which I never was.

"Art is not to be taught in academies. It is what one looks at, not what one listens to, that makes the artist. The real schools should be the streets."-- Oscar Wilde.

And again, Cameron,

"In order to function well as an artist, I must love the present. I must function in the present, savoring the sweet that is to be found there."

Cameron, a recovering alcoholic talks a lot about God or a higher power or possibly the universe and our need to let go and let this great mystery work through us. It is not us writing, but something more complete, something that we are a part of. My friend Lew has bone cancer and has been told he has a decade to live at the most. He is a young, beautiful man and this is simply heart breaking, but the fact is he has an uncanny faith, an ability to believe we all have divinity within us. So, I highly recommend Cameron's book if you too struggle with writer's block.

Recently someone said I should go through hypno-therapy to deal with the block, but I think simply finding this book, seeking beauty and immersing oneself in the moment can work for me

Here's a final quote which spurned a new poem, which I think has definite possibilities.

"Like the crocus, the artist does not pause to ask if his work is timely or welcome. Critical reception will perhaps be chilly like an unseasonal snow, but like the crocus, the artist survives."

Well, I'm going to try to write something now or possibly draw.

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