On this episode of Creativity for Skeptics, I’ll recap week one and preview week two. I’ll also recommend the podcast Radio Survivor. Transcript below.
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Hello, skeptical creatives and creative skeptics. Tammy here. This is episode seven of Creativity for Skeptics. In this episode, I’ll share my experiences with week one of The Artist’s Way as well as preview week two. And I’ll also talk about a podcast I recommend at the end of the show.
So, first off. Let’s talk about this past week. I’ll generally steer clear of politics on this podcast, but then things like January 6th happen here in the US. And how can you separate something as disturbing and terrible as an attempted fascist coup from creative recovery? I can’t. I didn’t. And if you didn’t either, if it totally derailed you, you are not alone.
I’d had a pretty good stretch of writing for an hour or two at night, then I spent Wednesday afternoon and evening glued to NPR and CBS Radio. I couldn’t work that night so shortly after getting my kids to bed, I crashed. The next day, I was glued again to the radio, NPR and BBC World Service.
This was supposed to be a week in which we were recovering a sense of safety, and I was worried about the chronic underlying anxiety about the pandemic, but then the domestic terrorist attack on the US Capitol happened. That’s all I’ll say about this for now, but I’ll leave it at this. After I made a huge step toward writing poetry again after years of being away from it, I felt that I could do things like write to my elected officials and voice my opinions on issues. Those two things were more closely linked than I would have thought. Tomorrow—Monday the 11th—for instance, I’ll be mailing off postcards to the junior senator from Texas and to our attorney general as well adding my voice to those urging them to resign. That’s politics for now.
On to the rest of week one. How’d it go? Morning pages happened more or less in the morning, but since I do my creative work at night, I wasn’t worried if I had to write them in the afternoon. No walk, per the last task, just ran out of time. It snowed here appreciably today, for the first time in six years, so that would have made for an interesting walk. But it melted pretty soon after. Anyhow, no solo time meant no solo walk.
The artist date did go better than I’d planned. I listed placed I’d go if I could, and second on the list to a bookstore was a fabric store. So, I took out my small trove of fabrics and threads and reorganized them. Colors, textures, it was quite lovely to be surrounded by all that. I’m going to be sewing more this year. Basically, if it can be covered in fabric, it will be covered in fabric. I just had five seed catalogs arrive last week, so I’ll probably brew up a cup of tea and sit down with those for a while next week sometime in lieu of going out. Not as good as going to a garden center, but it’s what I can do right now.
I’d love to hear what you did last week for an artist date and anything you have planned. Leave a comment at freethoughtblogs.com/freethinkingahead or send me an email, email@example.com Or if you’d like to share your thoughts on the artist date, what you did, how it went, you can record a clip and send it along. I’ll play selected clips on upcoming episodes.
I didn’t quite get through all the tasks. I did make a list of creative champions, one of whom I will be emailing sometime soon. But, in a nice coincidence, January 10th-16th is Universal Letter Writing Week, which I like because, hey, it’s the whole universe. Which reminds me, I might spend some time with stationery one of these weeks for an artist date.
A few observations I made. I don’t know if it’s because I’m in my mid-40s now, I’ve been at this for a while, and for the most part, I don’t really give a right royal rat’s backside what people think about the fact that I write space poems and now cozy mysteries. I do care about what editors think and I do care about making sure I don’t write something that would not pass a sensitivity read, but overall, the recent past creative monsters aren’t people. Or not directly, anyway. Sure, there was a recent horror story involving some comments about a project I was working on, but I quickly backed away from that situation. The three recent old enemies were more along the lines of my own lack of energy and so on. Maybe the creative enemies were people or things draining me, not necessarily people attacking my work, then? Something worth thinking about, I suppose.
How did week one go for you? Let me know.
On to week two. Julia Cameron opens the chapter using a term that some might find offensive, one that has been historically associated with mental illness. In fact, I find something problematic with her idea of “going sane,” as if creativity is associated with mental health. In some ways it is–as someone who has struggles with depression and anxiety, I’ve found that my most productive times have been the times when I’ve had both under control. But I don’t think these need to be related. There’s a common stereotype that great artists and writers are, as a whole, not the most mentally healthy group. Which is dangerous–you don’t have to suffer from a mental illness to be a great artist or writer, and, conversely, being well doesn’t preclude you from being creative. So there’s that, something to keep in mind.
The next two sections, language aside, are very important–they’re about making sure you protect your inner artist and your creative recovery from people who are not supportive of you and your creativity. This is vital stuff, and I’ve lived some of it myself. Protect your time and space to work on your creativity–it’s absolutely necessary.
The “Skepticism” section contains a fair bit of “the conscious universe” concept, which I’ve never found helpful, but maybe it won’t bother all of you listening. That said, I do want to point out that Julia Cameron argues that we set aside our skepticism to open up to possibility, and I’m reminded that there are many, many versions of skepticism out there. My use of skepticism is about the supernatural, but I’m totally on board with opening yourself up to the possible. I’m all for a sense of wonder about the world, so I’m going to use that in place of a higher being. And that sense of wonder ties into the last section, Attention, quite nicely. Another good one to focus on there.
The “Rules of the Road” have good stuff too, though you can filter out the ones that might not apply if you don’t believe in the supernatural. I love the first three especially. Number seven needs a bright gold star by it. So many people “talk away” their creative project, they tell people about it but never do the work. If you need a creative companion to gently remind you to do the work, then here’s my gentle reminder to do your creative work when and how you can.
Great stuff in the tasks. The one small tweak I’m going to make in number seven is to relabel “spirituality” with “attention” or “wonder.” Julia Cameron suggests going out to correct some of the neglected areas in our lives, which we can’t do. So more opportunity to be creative with this one as needed.
So that’s the week two preview. I’ll be back with episode eight on January 17th to recap the second week and preview the third week.
And now, for a recommendation. I listen to so many podcasts, and one of the ones I look forward to most is Radio Survivor. From their website: “The Radio Survivor podcast is a weekly show that explores the future of community media, with a focus on community radio, college radio, low-power FM and public access TV, along with podcasting and internet radio. ” So many good episodes to recommend. They dive into politics–there’s a recent episode, number 277 – “How Does the FCC Solve Anything?“–but my favorite episodes involve the arts. One of these is episode 190, an interview with artist and filmmaker Amanda Dawn Christie. I got to see her film Spectres of Shortwave online, which is about the closing of Radio Canada International’s shortwave service and the destruction of the antennas at their relay site in New Brunswick. Fascinating film, great interview. Go check out Radio Survivor if you’re interested at all in radio. A link will be in the show notes.
So that’s it from me today. If you have any questions about creativity you’d like me to address, feel free to send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or post a comment over at my blog, freethoughtblogs.com/freethinkingahead
Thanks for listening to Creativity for Skeptics. For more information about the show or to listen to past episodes, go to creativityforskeptics.com. We’ll talk creativity again soon.