Friday, 25 November 2011

After the Artist's Way — Week 1

A week has passed, so I figure it's time for my first check in to blether about what's been happing since I finished The Artist's Way.

It's been a funny old week.  There were days when I found myself feeling like I had forgotten to do something.  I'd check my to-do lists to no avail, or I'd sit in at night with spare time wondering why I felt a bit grumpy.  The truth is those little gaps where I felt bored or miffed were the times I'd usually be doing tasks, reading chapters or writing my blog.  That's time I should now be using productively or creatively, but I've kinda failed on that front so far.  I haven't made the smooth transition I expected from creative recovery to artistic motivation—that'll be my first challenge for this week!

I also let my guard down and didn't do my morning pages twice this week.  The first was accidental (I overslept and wanted to be on time for work) and the second was the following day when I hopped out of bed on autopilot and found myself going about the old routine I've not followed for over 3 months!  As I sat eating breakfast with 15 minutes to spare before leaving the house, I realised my brain was bogged down with a million things running through it.  Why did I have that feeling again that I'd forgotten to do something?  Quite simply:  I had!  The reason my mind was racing was because I hadn't spilled my thoughts on the page when I woke up.  It's a funny ritual, and I realise now it's one that serves me well.  I won't go as far as saying it's completely necessary for me to function, but it certainly does help me organise my thoughts and guarantees that I will write something constructive during the course of a day.  I went on to feel blocked later in the day that I didn't do my pages; inspiration wouldn't play fair when I tried to work on my play, and I eventually conceded why.

I've discovered this week that 3 of my Twitter followers are now having a bash at The Artist's Way.  I hope their decision might in some way have been influenced by my blog, if indeed they've been reading my posts.  I'm quite happy to endorse it as a means to get creative people working through their blocks.  I must try hard not to jump in and ask too many questions though—I'm not part of any of their creative clusters after all—but I am really curious to know if it inspires them in the way it did me.  Maybe they'll be happy to share in time.  :-)

Debbie and I have agreed to keep our little creative cluster going.  We're checking in weekly and doing some of the tasks again over the winter months to keep us ticking over.  Lord knows I need someone to kick me in the butt and make sure I don't start procrastinating again!

I've been good in other areas this week.  I've kept up the habit of my artist's date, plus I had a mini-date mid-week.  I'm going to have a second one tonight and may even squeeze in a third over the weekend.  I'm finding it much easier to be kind myself on that front, and the things I'm doing rarely involve spending a lot of money.  I'm being much more creative in finding things to do that excite and stimulate me.  My downtime is mine, it's precious to me and I will make sure I keep enjoying it.  I find myself being drawn to arts and crafts or photography these days; I'm continually updating my image file with clippings whenever I find something that catches my eye.  I'm sure it would make no sense to any who should happen to discover it, but to me it's a mish-mashed collage of the eclectic things that reflect what I like and love about life.

I think that's all I've got on my mind right now.  I'm aiming for a much more productive week this week, and I'm looking forward to catching up with Debbie to find out what she's been up to.  Other than that, I have a hit list of things I've been putting for a while that I finally feel ready to tackle; for better or for worse, I intend to make a start on at least one big thing this week and see where it leads.  I've learnt a lot about myself and the things I'm passionate about over the course of The Artist's Way, and I want to constantly be striving toward making those things the main focus of my everyday life.  I'm pretty sure that, in a nutshell, is the key to happiness itself!


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Week 12, Day 7 — And Finally

Well, here we are then.  It's the last day of the twelve week programme.

If you're reading this and you've completed The Artist's Way before, you'll understand the emotions I'm feeling.  Happy, proud, scared, curious—a whole mixed bag.  More than anything else I feel satisfied and pleased with myself for making it right the way through.  It took a lot of commitment, especially after my previous false starts, but once I began to experience the changes for myself this time I knew it was going to be worthwhile.  I was always going to get there.

I had my wonderful Artist's Day today.  A big long extended Artist's Date to myself to celebrate reaching the end.  I spent several blissful hours doing some of my favourite things one after the after, many of them simple pleasures that might seem so little to others but make me feel really happy, and have consequently found myself in a very peaceful and relaxed mood tonight.

By the time I sat down to write this post I thought I'd feel a bit sadder—like something good was coming to an end.  The truth of the matter is I recognise that this isn't really the end of the journey; it's only the beginning.  The ground work has now been done, and it's up to me to live these positive changes I've made in my life and continue on my path of creative discovery.  I will write my morning pages.  I will go on my Artist's Dates.  I will look out and be thankful for synchronicity, I will keep building my network of supporters and nurture my friendships and relationships, and most importantly, I will continue to believe in and be kind to myself.

Debbie and I have agreed to keep our creative cluster going, so we'll be checking in once a week to see how life after The Artist's Way is faring—it sounds like we'll also continue with a weekly blog on an “After the Artist's Way” theme, with a view to us having a crack at Walking in This World, Julia Cameron's follow up programme, in 2012.

If you've stumbled upon my blog because you're researching the book or the course and want to find out more about it, then I heartily recommend that you give it a try.  The fact you've decided to look it up means some part of it has already resonated with you, and your curiosity means you're ready for it right now.  You owe it to yourself and whatever creative passion you have to unlock.  My one suggestion is to form a supportive creative cluster; I found the journey so much easier having Debbie to share it with rather than dealing with lots of change on my own.

I could get sentimental and reflective at this point, but I don't see the need.  It's after 10pm on a Sunday night, and I, my friends, am about to end the day by doing another of my favourite things:  an early bed with a large mug of hot chocolate and a good book.  ;-)


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Week 12, Day 6 — Family Time

I'm writing this post from the comfort of the sofa at mum and dad's house, where I'm sprawled out feeling pretty full and content. We've been out tonight for a family meal at Lochside House Hotel in Ayrshire, and what a feast we were treated to. The occasion was Aunty A heading back to Australia this week after several visits with us over the past few months; she's been using us a base for her worldly travels after finishing up her most recent job, and has been to Turkey, Spain, Marrakech, Brazil and made several trips to London in between.

I've talked about Aunty a few times in my blog; she got a mention right back on Day 1, in fact, and I wrote about the great weekend she spent with me in Glasgow last month. We really are kindred spirits, and I always go through a period of mourning when she leaves. I'm very grateful for the brilliant relationship we have and all the time we've managed to spend together this trip. I'm going to miss her as always.

I wrote for a few hours this morning before leaving for the train, and managed to finish the first draft of my new play. I already knew I wasn't happy with the direction I took it in and suspect the last two scenes will get the chop during editing, but it still felt satisfying to bring it to a conclusion and draw a line under it. In the past I've been guilty of excessive idealism, editing my writing as I go along to the extent that I sometimes lose sight of what I wanted to achieve and never finish at all. This time I felt happy to just go with the flow, experiment a bit even when I wasn't keen on it, then say nope—must try harder! I think I'll let it rest a week before attacking it with a red pen in preparation for a major rewrite.

I've got my big Artist's Day to look forward to tomorrow—I've been storing this one up for weeks to celebrate reaching the end of the journey. It's probably something a lot of people would scoff at as it's so trivial, but to me it's a decadent treat that takes me right back to my childhood. Let's just hope I don't feel as full and bloated as I do now by the time I get to Glasgow tomorrow, or I'll need someone to roll me around town!


Friday, 18 November 2011

Week 12, Day 5 — The End is Nigh

I met my friend Angela in town earlier for a three-tier high tea of sandwiches, cakes and scones (a big treat for us both courtesy of a deal voucher I procured months ago) then took a walk round Glasgow city centre, which is hanging under a low cloud of autumnal grey gloom today.  I'm now sitting in a coffeeshop playing out my favourite cliché:  strong black coffee, notebook and pen at hand (not forgetting my laptop, of course).  I've been scribbling away for over an hour now, some of it just for fun, some of it developing into more serious sketches I might use later.  I enjoy this time of year when it's nice to hide away somewhere snug and do something just for yourself.  And I enjoy nothing more than having free time to experiment with my writing.

I've found myself in a funny sort of reflective mood.  I think it's because I sense the end is nigh with The Artist's Way drawing to a close.  It's been twelve significant weeks of ups and downs, highs and lows.  Some weeks have been very powerful and uplifting; others have at first seemed difficult and obstructive, only to later feel like important lessons were learnt.  I guess more than anything I've realised that I have a great network of friends and supporters around me, people who fill my life with kindness and consideration.  There are people out there who want to see me do well.  This might sound a bit melodramatic, but I genuinely feel less alone than I did three months ago.  I felt like I was fighting a losing battle to get where I wanted to be, and was continually sidelining many of my ambitions as I was afraid of failing.  For want of a better expression, I finally plucked up the courage to go "balls deep" and did something about it.  I didn't write a bestselling novel in a weekend.  I didn't write a groundbreaking play and get picked up by a national theatre company.  I didn't win the lottery and gain the financial freedom I always longed for to set me free from responsibility and let me be a humble writer.  No, I achieved something much bigger than all of those things:

I learnt how to believe in myself.

Yes, it's perhaps the biggest discovery I've made, one of the toughest lessons I've had to learn in all my years of struggling away.  It turns out success isn't the product of things that happen to you, or things you make happen for yourself, or what you might earn along the way; it's a state of mind, a way of being that can be programmed into your every day routine.  I still have problems and hurdles and barriers in my life—hell yes I do, perhaps bigger than I did even twelve weeks ago—but now I feel like they are simply inconveniences to be overcome as part of the background noise of life while I continue on this artistic journey I set out on.

Back at the beginning I mentioned that I'd started The Artist's Way before, but on previous attempts I bombed out.  I would convince myself I was too busy, or I wouldn't commit to the tasks when other things got in the way, or I'd feel confronted when trying to express my hopes and dreams to the people I had in my life at that time.  This time round I had a fab creative cluster partner in Debbie, whose kind words and encouragement have kept me on the straight and narrow.  More than anything else though, I was ready this time.  Good things have been happening in my life.  I've ticked off several major goals as this year has gone by.  I don't want to be a writer or performer any more:  I am a writer and performer, and I'm proud of what I've managed to achieve in a relatively short space of time.  I might not be the next big thing, I may not have earned a fortune, I might never do anything more significant than what I'm already doing right now:  what matters to me is the fact I'm doing it at all.  I am truly grateful for all the opportunities I've had this year, and can honestly say I feel content.

I have faith that this isn't the end of the journey.  It's just the beginning, the opening chapter.  Every day that I wake up and commit to my morning pages I will be writing a fresh page in my development as an artist.

I'm ready and prepared to tackle whatever challenge comes next!


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Week 12, Day 4 — Homework

Tonight I took a trip to the RCS (RSAMD) to visit their library; my mentor Isabel had recommended I read a play for research and I've been struggling to get hold of it online since.  Luckily a quick search of their catalogue revealed they had a reference copy on the shelf, so I was able to go spend an hour reading it there and taking notes.  I felt like I was doing proper homework.  I'm researching, I'm learning, I'm developing; I'm a student again.

I met a couple of actor friends while there and adjourned to the pub for a catch up.  We ended up in a passionate conversation about plays, projects, writing and life in general.  It was great!  I even slipped on my life coaching cap and found myself giving guidance and imparting words of wisdom.  Yes, it's easy to forget that I can actually be a pretty useful guy to know if you're only used to reading about my more vulnerable explorations of self through this blog.

Did I mention I've actually been writing writing this week?  I say that as a lot of the time I get trapped experimenting with notes and scribbles, but this week something's clicked and I have actual material rolling out.  Loads of it, in fact—I've now got two respectable plays in progress, plus I've finished two decent short stories too.  They all need editing, but the raw material's there.  I haven't worked out where the motivation or flow is coming from, but whatever it is I've tapped, I'll have more of that please.

Today was a synchronous day; I kept meeting people I was happy to see.  I like when that happens.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Week 12, Day 3 — Do Not Disturb!

I've been working with the affirmations from earlier in the course tonight.  Week 12 encourages you to go back and laugh at some of your old fears before revisiting the affirmative mantras that helped you blast some of those fears away over the past few weeks.  It's interesting to reflect on the changes I see over the past 3 months.  There are areas where I've certainly grown in confidence and self-belief, but others where I'm perhaps just as awkward as I always was, if not more so in some cases.  I guess that's all part and parcel of the journey, and I'm happy with that:  one area of change at a time is a good enough pace for me.  I know what I need to continue working on moving forwards.

After finishing the exercise I checked my emails and found positive messages from two people I count among my supporters—yet more affirmation if ever I needed it!  Both of their names are neatly written on pieces of paper I've folded into cranes (yes, paper cranes!) and placed in jars where I'll be keeping them safe.  I like this little task and will secretly be continuing it long after The Artist's Way has drawn to its conclusion… ;-)

I've also been enjoying lots of micro Artist's Dates this week.  I've scheduled a little one into every single day this week, with some days even having two or more.  I have a big one planned for Sunday to round off and celebrate reaching the end of the 12 weeks.  I'm about to indulge in today's third mini-date… a long soak in the bath with a new album and a mug of hot chocolate, followed by an early bed with my new book.

Please—Do Not Disturb!


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Week 12, Day 2 — Eh!?

I've said this right through The Aritst's Way, so it's no surprise to find myself saying it again.  I got stuck into this week's tasks tonight, and one of them asks you to repot any pinched and languishing plants (I won't explain the logic behind it though—you'll need to take the journey and find out for yoursel!).  Just last week I asked the girl who comes in to the office at work to water the plants for advice about my Madagascan Dragon Tree, which sadly started to shed its leaves and look a bit sorry for itself at the end of summer.  I've been really worried it might be dying.  Her reply?  Repot it and move it into better light.  The further into The Artist's Way I've delved, the more I've found myself saying "eh!?" when something like this happens; it's as if the book was specially written for me to cater for whatever's going on in my life at any given time.

I'm going to miss it after this week.

Another task was to write any fears or resistance I might have moving forward after this week.  I have plenty, but I also have optimism that the new routines and good habits I've developed will keep me on track.

I've done as many of the tasks as I want to for today.  I'm holding two or three back for now.


Monday, 14 November 2011

Week 12, Day 1 — The Heat Is On

Week 12 — the final week.  I'm excited, I'm sad, I'm curious, I'm relieved.  I have more questions than answers and can't help but feel the heat is on to make a final push in this journey of creative recovery.

As I read this week's chapter I came across the line “Hatching an idea is a lot like baking bread”.  I must confess it got me sidetracked from researching the play I'm working on and I ended up in the kitchen with my sleeves rolled up being a different manner of creative.  I baked a batch of treacle biscuits and a batch of Scotch pancakes; they satisfied a wee sugar rush and gave me a feeling of achievement having made something from scratch.  The warm air from the oven served a timely reminder that yes, the heat really is on.  But that doesn't mean I can't take some time out to be kind to myself.


Week 11, Day 7 — Honest Changes

I finally got round to tackling this week's tasks.  I haven't completed all of them yet, so I'll spill over to tomorrow and pick up the rest then.  In the meantime, I have a few things to share.

5 ways I have changed since beginning The Artist's Way:
  1. My daily routine has changed, and my lifestyle has changed; I write every single day between my morning pages and my blog, and find that I'm more inspired to write out with these tasks too.
  2. My daily walks and fitness level have changed.  What started as simply walking to and from work with walks at lunchtime to keep fit has now become a daily pilgrimage of exploration; I love spending time in the ever-transforming park as the seasons unfold, I love traversing the streets of the city and drinking in architecture and details I previously would have sped past on public transport, and I love that even in the big anonymous city some of the people I regularly encounter now say a cheery hello as we meet.
  3. I'm not as afraid of being an artist.  Most of my life has been spent worrying about how I would support myself, or how my work would be judged or received, or whether or not I was good enough to even bother.  I now feel confident enough to just let it be, to simply commit to the act of creating.  Anything else that follows will happen of its own accord.
  4. I value talent.  Not just the talents I've been guilty of squirrelling away and not using to their full potential, but those of the people around me.  I recognise the work, effort and the journeys other artists have taken to get to where they are today.
  5. My priorities have changed.  There has been a definite shift in my motivation and attitude.  On the whole I am much more positive about the direction my life is taking.  I recognise that some people in my life are kicking against these changes and perhaps seek to derail me out of fear.  This will pass.  It is temporary, part of the rebirthing process.  I must stay committed to my journey and focus on my goals; those who support me will always respond with kindness.
5 ways I will change as I continue:
  1. I will continue to grow in confidence.
  2. I will continue to grow in fitness and physical awareness.
  3. I will continue to build relationships and strengthen those friendships that support and nurture my career.
  4. I will continue to work towards living as an independent artist.
  5. I will continue to grow as an artist and seek out opportunities to develop as a writer and performer.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Week 11, Day 6 — Closed Windows

I was back at the RCS (the RSAMD) to watch another student play on Saturday afternoon, and was surprised to find a dear friend in the cast.  In all my recent busyness I had completely overlooked the fact she is now in her final year and is of course at the production and presentation stage of her degree.  She gave a beautiful performance, as did the rest of the cast, leaving me quite moved.  We met briefly afterwards and promised to see each other soon for a proper catch up.

When I got home I found myself in an odd mood.  I felt a bit sad, if truth be told.  Now I know Medea isn't the cheeriest of plays at the best of times, but it wasn't the material that had gotten to me.  The realisation had dawned that if I'd been able to commit to my plans a few years ago and hadn't had the opportunity snatched from me, I could well have been completing an acting degree this year myself.  You see Amy and I were the only two mature students on the RSAMD's audition and interview prep course a few years ago—we were also appearing together in a musical at the time, that's how we'd gotten to know each other—but it was during that year that I took grievously ill and underwent the first of two rounds of major surgery.  It was also during that same period I split from my ex and found myself in deep financial trouble.  I wasn't able to complete the night classes, and any thought of me auditioning to study full time was put to bed.

I've spoken a bit about these hurdles in my blog before.  As much as I would love to have studied and fully pursued an acting career, I accept that particular window closed for a reason.  And others opened for me.  I still perform.  I'm still working in theatre.  My strength lies in writing and theatremaking, and right now I am being presented with all the right opportunities, support and good fortune that I need to develop and forge the career I've always wanted for myself.

And for that I am both happy and grateful.


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Week 11, Day 5 — Living It

I'm being immersed in theatre this weekend.  It's that first point in the year when the local colleges and drama schools start putting on productions with their final year students, and I've kindly had a ticket bought for me to see several of them (thanks Margaret!) over the next few days.

As I sat tonight in the auditorium I melted away into my own wee world—at least I assume it was my own, I might well have been sharing it with other members of the audience.  I love theatre.  I state this, obviously, just in case you've been reading my blog with your eyes closed!  I love the whole act of creation, I love watching strong performances, I love really observing other actors as they become believable characters, I love when excellent lighting and sound and staging and design come together to fashion delicious imagery you will never forget, and I love listening to the nuances of dialogue and text.  When I get in the zone, I'm not just loving it—I'm living it.  I am at my happiest and truest when I am locked in a space making or partaking in great theatre.

In this week's chapter Julia tells us that “creativity is oxygen for our souls”.  That totally rings true with me (even if I must naughtily confess I loved it so much that I said it out loud to savour it, but in my funny Scottish accent it sounded slightly rude and made me snigger as the alternative version is probably also true—I'll let you do the math and work it out!!).  Creativity IS my oxygen.  The inner cynic I carried with me at the beginning of this journey wouldn't have let me get away with saying something like that in the past.  I realise what a huge shift has taken place in my life that I now give myself permission to be true to myself.

I leave you with this thought from this week's chapter:-
If you are happier writing than not writing, painting than not painting, singing than not singing, acting than not acting, directing than not directing, for God's sake (and I mean that literally) let yourself do it.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Week 11, Day 4 — New Chapter

This week got off to a rubbish start—a total nightmare, in fact.  I've been in disarray for days as a result.  But tonight I got to start a fresh chapter and put all of life's distractions out my mind.

And I'm excited.

I had my first mentoring session at the Playwrights' Studio.  We had a meet and greet first between mentors and mentees, found out a bit about where we all are and what we hope to achieve over the next six months.  Douglas Maxwell said something very encouraging and motivational during his wee spiel—that we should all congratulate ourselves on having arrived and look forward to what the industry had to offer us.

We then broke off to have our individual sessions, and Isabel Wright, my mentor, got straight to business.  I presented her with my worries, concerns, ambitions, obstacles—she listened to it all, took it all on board, then reminded me that none of it is actually important right now.  What's important is writing!  I've been so caught up in the melee of pitching ideas and trying to produce plays for the past few months that I've completely neglected the most obvious part of the whole process—actually committing work to paper.  We've set some homework, a pile of targets and I'm going to get stuck right into one of the projects I've been putting off working on for too long.

And as I've said, I'm excited.

I finally read this week's chapter on the commute home.  I'm so used to receiving positive signals and synchronicity now that I wasn't surprised in the slightest to read this on the first page:
“I must learn that as an artist my credibility lies with me, God, and my work.  In other words, if I have a poem to write, I need to write that poem—whether it will sell or not.”
If ever there was affirmation that I'm on the right path and getting the best guidance available, then there it is.

No, my problems haven't gone away.  But they don't define who I am.  If anything, they will make me stronger as an artist.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Week 11, Day 3 — Inspiration

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” — Eckhart Tolle
Here's hoping, Echkart.  Here's hoping.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Week 11, Day 2 — An Opportunity

I've decided to see this week as a learning opportunity.  I wrote one of my best pieces of prose last night after struggling through the toughest day I've been faced with in a long time.  More than two months into The Artist's Way and I should be able to handle difficult circumstances better; perhaps in my artistic life I will should they arise, but back in regular life, I was left feeling savaged yesterday.  It serves as a timely reminder that I must continually strive towards achieving my artistic goals because they mean far too much to me to give up on.


Monday, 7 November 2011

Week 11, Day 1 — 1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

Today's been one of those one step forward, two steps back days.  I'm behind starting Week 11 as a result—I'm smarting right now and can't concentrate on reading.  Let's hope tomorrow is a better day.


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Week 10, Day 7 — Easy Does It

Wow.  I just lost a whole day, one that ironically I'd planned to be super productive.  I slept for 11 hours last night, had breakfast in bed, read for about an hour then dropped off again and napped for a further 5 hours.  My body seems to have gone into catch up mode combined with seasonal hibernation.  I obviously needed it.

I guess at the end of self-protection week it serves as a timely reminder to be kind to myself and recharge the batteries once in a while.  I'm so used to coasting by on 2 or 3 hours a day with my insomnia that I forget it's normal to need more rest every now and then, especially this time of year when the cold dark nights are drawing in.

I'm now sitting here after 10pm with a pile of missed calls, texts, emails, 5 unchecked items on my to-do list and a target of 12,000 words between 3 different tasks I'd intended to complete today.  I'm not going to do any of it, it can all wait until tomorrow.  Right now I'm going to make a pot of tea, head back to bed and read Week 11's chapter of The Artist's Way, then hopefully get another full night's sleep.

Unashamedly putting myself first and not worrying one bit.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Week 10, Day 6 — Satisfactory

Today's been a satisfying day. Writing group this morning, coffees and catch ups in the afternoon, my Artist's Date, dinner with Lynn and a trip to the theatre to see friends in a very funny production. I've walked about 6 miles in between and enjoyed being out and about in a very autumnal Glasgow. I'm on the last train home feeling very tired but very happy. It's exactly the kind of day I needed to unwind after a full week.

I think I'll sleep well tonight.


Friday, 4 November 2011

Week 10, Day 5 — Writing Cap On

Okay, I think it's happened:  the long overdue creative U-turn I've been waiting for.

I'm excited about a project!

A while back I wrote to people involved in an event that took place in the early 1950's asking if they could help me with my research, explaining my relationship to one of the people involved and laying out my motives.  I've also made a few trips that I've hinted at on here to various regional archives and records offices across the country to glean background information, though so far I've kept schtum on what I've been working on as I've never quite been sure it would amount to anything.

Today I got a fantastic response from one of the gentlemen who is now in his late 70's.  He has sent me 95 pages of notes, news clippings, inquest reports and diary entries spanning over a decade after the event took place.  His cover letter ended with this sentence:-
"I've never spoke about this to family, friends or the papers. I kent your Papa. He'd be proud of you for doing this."
I'm so pleased to get this kind of support, and obviously feel quite moved at the personal response.  I had to resist the temptation to tear right into the materials this morning as I have a busy day, but couldn't resist a sneak peek at the first diary entry.  Reading it, I felt a huge wave of responsibility wash over me.  It has suddenly turned in to a real, tangible, mammoth project to work on, and has the potential to be much bigger than me and my humble ambition—I just hope I can do justice when the time comes to pull my writing cap on.

At this stage in The Artist's Way I feel my confidence growing.  Just a few months ago I was still a bit of a wallflower, and would have faced the thought of tackling a project of this scale with uncertainty and doubt.  Now, the first questions that hit me are who am I going to pitch this to and how will I fund it if I go it alone.  It's not will I get this project off the ground, it's how am I going to make it happen.

As part of this week's tasks Julia asks us to consider our artistic droughts.  While I've been pottering away with my morning pages and scribbling in my notebook, I've felt like I haven't worked on anything substantial for months, other than the last minute edits to my solo show.  She says droughts do end.  With this much source material and insight at my disposal and with a wealth of support behind me, I feel like mine might finally be breaking.

Who am I going to pitch this to?
How will I fund it if I decide to go it alone?
How am I going to make it happen?


Thursday, 3 November 2011

Week 10, Day 4 — What Would Jesus Do?

It's been a funny 24 hour period.  I have good things happening, I have bad things happening, I have things trying my patience (don't we all?), I have things I'm looking forward to, I have things I'm afraid of, I've had some good fortune, I've had bad luck—a whole mixed bag of stuff is going on.  Most importantly, though, I've learned some important things about myself today.  I won't bore you with the details (for once), but I'll admit that I do like a good lesson. ;-)

Tonight I went to meet David at his office before seeing Liz Lochhead's new play.  I had a an outpouring.  I needed it.  And he had an ingenius solution—we asked Jesus!  No, we didn't pray... he keeps one of those pink plastic Jesus dolls on his sideboard which acts as a Magic 8 ball.  We asked him my most pressing questions, and the response was...

"I died for this!?"

It put a much needed smile on my face.

Liz Lochhead's play Edwin Morgan's Dreams and Other Nightmares had a few revelatory moments for me.  I've long enjoyed Morgan's poetry and was fascinated to see aspects of his life played out.  I identified with the period in his life when his writing dried and he 'had to wait for the good stuff to come again'—I just hope the good stuff does come at some point in my career.  I also identified with some of the dream states; it would appear he too experienced lucid dreams, convinced he was falling asleep in one reality only to wake in another and play out a whole separate life.  I've been there.  During one of the sleep research trials I participated in for my insomnia, I underwent hypnosis and became convinced some of my more lucid dreams had actually played out.  This continued into normal life and for years I've had the odd occasion when I've been part way through drinking a coffee or having a conversation with someone only to suddenly wake up in bed and discover the event wasn't actually taking place.  I want to find out more about Morgan to find out if his experiences really were similar to mine or if I've simply read too far into a dramatised version of the events.  Either way, I enjoyed the play tonight.

As I walked home I got to thinking; here I am, 30 years old, still trying to find my place in the world and work out who I am and what I do.  Edwin Morgan was still writing into his 90's.  That's another two lifetimes if I'm blessed to live to a ripe old age.  Now that is inspiring.

I wonder what his response would be if I had the opportunity to ask him the same question I'd asked Jesus earlier night?  Would he too exclaim "I died for this!?"


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Week 10, Day 3 — Eye Off The Ball

OH ****!!

I took my eye off the ball this week and ran square into the goal post.

Last night I wrote about being on top of things for the first time in ages, but had a niggling paranoid feeling as I was convinced I should be doing something.  Turns out I was right not to feel Zen about my free time—the writing assignment I have due has a deadline of tomorrow, not next week as I originally put in my diary.

Yes, the Award for Monumental Cock-Up of the Week goes to...  Me.  :-/

Fingers crossed I'll be able to grab an extension, as I've now committed myself to a wee job recording vocals over the next few days seeing as I had the spare time on my hands to fit it in.  Oh the irony...

In other news, I've managed to fail on almost all counts of my Bottom Line resolutions from Monday within the first 48 hours of making them.  I need to try much harder this week as I'm clearly being tested; they are for my own good, it doesn't bode well to be caving in and resorting to old habits.

Meanwhile, a niggling wee voice is chewing away at the back of my head, singing "neh neh, neh neh, neeeeeh neh—told you so".



Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Week 10, Day 2 — Cinderella Complex

It's only Tuesday night and I've somehow managed to complete all of this week's tasks somewhat prematurely.  I'm sitting tonight twiddling my thumbs a bit; for the first time in ages, I'm totally up-to-date with things (other than a wee writing assignment that's due in a few days, but that's under control and I'm not going to panic about it).  The dishes are done, the housework's done, I've read all the blogs and news feeds I'm subscribed to.  Even my inboxes are tidy—I only have 8 emails left to chase up (to put that in perspective, just 2 months ago they were in chaos with over 4,200 messages to sift through).

I'm so used to having to cram the things I need to achieve around long working hours that inevitably things get put off then rushed last minute.  Now that my working hours are shorter and more leisurely, I find I've managed to get everything else done quickly.  It's so unlike me that I feel really agitated, like I should be doing something, anything, just to feel productive.  It's like the Cinderella Complex Julia describes in the book; work, work and more work, with only fleeting moments of dreaming about going to the ball.

I better get used to this because this is how things are going to be from now on.  I need to fight the urge to be super-productive and try to relax.  I'm going to go make a pot of tea and settle down to write just 750 more words to meet my target for the day, and once they're out of the way I'm going to read Act One of Taming the Shrew in prep for a Shakespeare short course I signed up for.

After that—well, I might actually go to bed early for once.

Oh my.  I think I'm changing.