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!