Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Rebirth of the Artist

Pink Water Lily, or Lotus: purity, enlightenment or rebirth
I finally made it to summer break! If anyone ever states their jealousy about educators having 2-3 months off for the summer and all of those “vacations” in between, I would like to gently remind them that we get the breaks so that we have time to forget how stressful the school year can actually be!

I made a bold plan for my summer—work like a mad woman on getting out Panther City Review, do my own writing, get some of my writing courses up online, and to work my way through Julia Cameron’s artist workbook The Artist’s Way, plus all those honey do projects that I don’t have a honey to do them for me during the school year.

In beginning The Artist’s Way this time around (this is my third trip through the book), I’m finding that I am discovering so much that I didn’t see the first two times.  The first time through I was extremely depressed after an unexpected breakup and was looking for something to lift me up, help me gain back my confidence and wellbeing. It sort of helped with that, but I honestly don’t remember much of the lessons. I was a zombie in completing the work that year. I was pretty much a zombie with everything in my life for a while that year.

My second journey was the first that I co-lead the group on Facebook with Melinda Massie, which we called The Fabulous Artist’s Way BootCamp (feel free to join us!). I started out strong, but petered out at the end, shortly after my car accident. I just couldn’t focus on anything…literally. I tried, but ended up apologizing for not participating, or leading at all, then worked at picking it back up to finish the final few weeks. It didn’t work well for me at all.

This journey, though…I am ready. I feel more empowered because I’ve been working towards my creative journey for a few months. I’ve planned, outlined, and started many of my creative endeavors that are musts for me. This first week of Week 1 in the work has been so enlightening for me. I’ve always considered myself a shadow artist and created obstacles to my own breaking out of that pattern: I want to be published, so what do I do—start a publishing company where I’m publishing others instead of using that creative energy to get my own writing done. Not that I regret Sleeping Panther Press or any of the titles that I’ve put out, but…what I have I been doing on my own work? Not much. This summer is the plan to change that.

The thing is, more often than not, women put themselves in the Shadow Artist role, supporting other artists in their work, but having self-defeatist talk about their own creativity. This is not new—women have been in this position for millennia. It is traditional for women to keep the house going, take care of the family, make sure everyone is fed, clothed, and comfortable. I don’t even have a family, yet I use the excuse that I have to take care of others before I nurture my own art. Why? Well, when it all comes down to it, men are better at saying no to things so that they can do what they want to do. Women need to take note of this. Find other ways for things to get done around the home that don’t involve women doing all the work, even if that means that the work is only delayed or just doesn’t get done.

Before school was out for the summer, I used my calendar that I created for my Write Fearlessly workshop to do a time tracker—instead of tracking what I spend my time on, though, I decided to just put down what I planned on spending my time doing. That became my schedule for the week. I have three days where I work on business/writing related items. This could be publishing, working on my online classes, or writing. I have two days where I spend the mornings either working in the yard or cleaning the house. The afternoons are free to do whatever needs to be done, or do nothing at all. Saturdays and Sundays are free days where I can either do something fun, or work. I’ve built in exercise times as well as mealtimes. It’s pretty structured, but also flexible. This first week out, I was mostly on schedule. The thing is, on those free times, I can adjust, work on a Thursday afternoon, then go out and do something on one of my business days. When something comes up, I can go do it, but I now have to make up whatever was scheduled for that time later in the week. It gives me the freedom to look at the calendar and say, “No, I can’t do that today. I have to work on my screenplay.”

It all comes down to allowing myself to say no to things that do not support my creativity during my creative time. To tell my Shadow Artist personality to take a hike. I have things to create!