Posts Tagged ‘creative recovery’

Creative people are dramatic, and we use negative drama to scare ourselves out of our creativity…–Julia Cameron

I have the tremendous ability to suck the life and joy completely out of creativity.  I’m also the queen of excuses.  I blame my inertia on my partner’s procrastination.  BULLSHIT!  It has nothing to do with her.  I have no quiet time.  This is absolutely true when I cram my days full of meaningless activity.  I have no solitude.  While I may not have the entire house to myself, it is a guarantee that people are not holed up in every single room!  Solitude could easily be found if I simply got off my ass and closed the door to my work space.  We watch too much TV.  Only when I sit and stare at it for hours instead of heading off to that previously-mentioned quiet space to nourish my creative spirit.  Left to my own devices I can easily come up with a lifetime of excuses to keep me from doing what needs to be done–CREATING!

The truth of the matter is that recently I stopped creating out of fear.  Heart-stopping fear.  In the midst of writing a poem that had me feeling like I was holding the hot, putrid guts of a dying woman in my hands, I felt the metal security gates of my defences slam down–HARD.  I heard myself say, “I can’t do this.  I don’t want to do this.  Why me?”

Up from the depths of my memory came the voice of an old writing mentor.  She was ripping me a new one after I shared with her the most raw piece I had ever written about my life. I thought I was safe with her, a woman who knew great suffering herself.  Instead, I was met with venom as she stabbed me with, “What are you trying to do, drag me into your shit?  Change the voice!  Change the story!”  Except it was my story and it was my voice.  I could no more change these things than I could the colour of my eyes.

Instead of understanding my mentor’s reaction for what it was–my story touched a painful, unhealed place in her–I took her words to heart believing there was something intrinsically wrong with my voice and my perceptions.  Afraid to ever again shine the light on raw human suffering I aimed to “clean up” my ways of viewing the world and expressing myself.  I was a dirty girl who saw dirty things and that just wasn’t nice.  I wanted to be nice.  I wanted to be liked.  I wanted acceptance.  My aim served only to create in me great psychological conflict and a vicious case of creative constipation.

20 years later I find myself standing here with this bleeding, unfinished poem in my hands, the true and agonizing story of a woman’s response to loss, and I am sick with fear.  My knees are knocking, my chest is tight, and my entire spirit is cringing, waiting for the scathing voice of Mrs. M. to once again tell me I’m a dirty girl who needs changing.  I can’t proceed with the story. I am stuck but only for as long as I allow myself to be.  Mrs. M. is gone and her voice is simply a memory that resurfaces whenever I feel scared and vulnerable in my creative life.  In some twisted way this punishing voice helps me find comfort and safety by stopping me dead in my tracks.

What to do?

I gently creep up on myself.

Day 1:  Take pen in hand.

Day 2:  Have pen in hand. Place book in front of self.

Day 3:  With pen in hand, open book.

Day 4:  Dare to write one word.

                              Then one sentence.

                                        And a paragraph.

Day 16 (or 24…or 68…I’ve lost track):  I open the file on my computer that contains the poem.

Today:  Looking at the first two sections of this three-part poem, I type “3.” and save the file.

Ernest Hemingway once said:

Today, by softly and lovingly moving in on my creative self, I begin to bleed again.  Just for today, in this very precious moment, there is flow, there is movement, and it is good.

May you find the courage to creep up lovingly on the soft animal that is your creative self.  May you find just the right things to do to engage with it.  May you also begin to bleed into and from those places within you that have stood frozen in time for far too long.

All my love,


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