I was first introduced to the book, “The Artist’s Way” (by Julia Cameron) by way of songwriter/guitarist, Chuck Pyle. It was at a gathering at Swallow Hill Music Association, organized around people who had taken part in one way or another with the Kerrville Folk Festival (I was pleased to win the Newfolk Songwriting Competition there some years ago). The first time I worked with the book, I started my independent recording label and recorded/produced/released my first two CD’s. I started to work with it again a little over a year ago, and now have two new albums recorded and released (and am currently on the second leg of a vast, cross-country tour to support those new albums).
But at some point I sort of got busy, or distracted, or whatever, and I stopped working with “The Artist’s Way”. A few days ago (Sunday, to be specific), I decided I needed to revisit this book again. The book is organized as a 12-week program to help recover and nurture one’s creativity. It can be a very insightful process; bringing to your attention issues and attitudes that can be holding you back in one way or another. The fact that it is organized as a 12-week program is a very deliberate nod to the 12-step program created and propagated by Alcoholics Anonymous. Cameron has admitted to her history of alcohol abuse, and at one point feared that her creativity was inextricably tied to her use of alcohol. She said out in a very deliberate and conscious way to nurture her creativity while disproving various myths that claim an artistic person (musician, writer, artist, actor, what have you) must entertain a dark and/or destructive vein in order to be creative.
I have not been wrestling with any such addiction, but I have endured a few hard knocks over the last 6-9 months. I have had to deal with various forms or rejection and other challenges, and it has left me a bit psychically bruised, as it were. So I figured it was a good time to work with Cameron’s book again.
The book insists that you don’t have to believe in a “higher power” as such to tap into its principles. But I do have a sense of spirituality, or cosmology that I had got out of touch with. I do not believe in an anthropomorphic, patriarchal god (and certainly not the vengeful, somewhat whimsical figure described in the Old Testament), but I do believe in a creative consciousness that permeates the universe; something that, for convenience’s sake, could be referred to as “God”.
One of the practices of the “The Artist’s Way” book is called Morning Pages, where you sit down (preferably first thing in the morning) and do a sort of stream-of-consciousness writing down of whatever comes to mind for three pages. I have found this a helpful process for sorting thoughts, recognizing goals and opportunities, and sometimes sparking some new, creative ideas. It could also be interpreted as a form of prayer, if you like, or a form of meditation.
While it could be considered no more than coincidence, since resuming this practice, I got three more gigs confirmed for the present leg of the tour, as well as an opportunity to submit some of my instrumentals for consideration on a feature film. Once again, I am encouraged. Thank you, Julia Cameron, and thank you, Chuck Pyle, for showing me this path.