March: a Sense of Power


This chapter covers a variety of concepts, from anger to synchronicity to why people would prefer to think there is no God (“Most of us are a lot more comfortable feeling we’re not being watched too closely”).

“Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves.”

This idea of anger as a marker of transgression or trespass also comes up in another book I have been reading of late: Boundaries – which is an example of synchronicity.

I will cheerfully admit that I did most of the work for this chapter fairly early on in the month (i.e. half way through it) and my mind has been elsewhere since.

I was surprised by some of the things which unburied themselves in the “Detective Work”.

“My favourite musical instrument is” the low whistle – which I have never held, let alone learned to play, although I once discovered someone in New Zealand who makes them.

“If I wasn’t so stingy with my artist I’d” buy her (her? my internal artist, like many children, doesn’t seem strongly gendered) some really flash stationery. Maybe some ink-bottles.

Pointless Archaism

“If it didn’t sound so crazy, I’d” write a supermarket musical. What do I have to fear from crazy? One day I’ll do it.

I am haunted by the fear that if I commit to this writing life, if I let the dreamer loose, I won’t be able to keep making myself go back to work.

With the regular exercises, further surprises ensued.
I was supposed to describe 5 traits I like in myself as a child. I came up with one: my ability to pun. (Whether anyone else liked that in me as a child, I know not.)

That was a bit depressing, but I did better in the field of childhood accomplishments (e.g. started reading Agatha Christie at 6 1/2).

Agatha Christie

Habits! If only changing habits was as easy for me as it is for nuns. (Yes, that’s what I was like as a child.) Wasting time online, procrastinating, feeling guilty instead of getting on with things…
Physical habits are relatively easy to break, I think. It’s the ones in your mind that most closely ensnare you.

The lists of people I admire and want to meet (dead or alive) were confusing: great writers such as Chesterton, Lewis and Stoppard; and a rather strange mix of people including the Pimpernels (Scarlet and Tartan), Francis, Fanny Crosby and Edith Cavell.

If anyone can tell me what the common thread is there, I shall be much obliged to you.

In other news, I spent the entire long weekend (four days in New Zealand, Lord be praised!) in Not Writing. I meant to write, but I meant to do many other things, and it turns out four days is only four days long.

One thing which I did mean to do (and did) is create something for my Artist’s Date. It still needs a few finishing touches, but here’s a clue:

Can you guess?

February: a Sense of Identity

Do you have a person in your life whose ego is poisoning your creative well?
I don’t.

I am happy to say that all Julia Cameron’s descriptions of ‘crazymakers’ do not fit with any of the friends and family I have in my life. Admittedly, my roll of friends is not a long one, but quality beats quantity every time (except possibly in NaNoWriMo.)

Of course, it is well known that you can’t choose your family, so my thanks go out to any relatives who may be reading this for not being egomaniacs who insist that my world revolves around them. (I’d send you flowers, but all I seem able to grow are dandelions and buttercups.)


However. On with the chapter.
I have already made some mention of the ‘recovery of identity’ theme in my previous post, so, straight on to the Tasks!

Task 2 reveals there are 168 hours in a week, of which I spend 40 at the Dreaded Day Job, five getting to and from the DDJ, and five more of a morning getting ready for the DDJ.

63 hours are spent asleep (if I’m lucky) and 13 either preparing food or eating it. (That seems like a lot. Divide by 21 meals per week and it doesn’t seem quite so gluttonous. I think.)

That leaves about 41 hours for housework, reading, writing, resting, handwork and relationships with God, the universe and everyone.
The proportions thereof would, I think, repay more study than I have so far given them (navel-gazing not being on the above list).

My extended list of imaginary lives (Task 6) now includes a peasant, a princess and a mute. Kind readers will refrain from suggesting how I might incorporate the latter into my everyday life.

'A toutes les femmes qui silencieusement ont construit l'Histoire'

My life pie (Task 7) seems to have been involved in a side-on collision – exercise and romance are doing well, with spirituality holding its own, but friends and play are looking a little saggy and work is – well, the less said about work the better.
Moving on.

Ten tiny changes was a very enjoyable exercise. Although I haven’t done or started all of them, they are mostly quite achievable (#10, eat Weetbix, #5, light a candle).

#2, Have a Teapot, is accomplished, and very enjoyably. It turns out the secret to successful teapot-hunting (besides going when the charity shops are open) is to stop looking for the perfect teapot, and find the good teapot.

Blue Leaf Teapot
This is not my teapot.

The perfect teapot is probably better than the good teapot, yes, but you can’t drink tea out of it until you find it, which could be never. Imagine the prospect of drinking tea disappearing over the event horizon. Shudder. Buy the good teapot.

There’s probably a life lesson in there somewhere.

For my artist’s date, I was going to follow the tradition (i.e. the thing I have done once before) of spending $2, but there was a sale, so this week’s Artist’s Date is brought to you by the number 1.



Do we detect a trend of childlikeness here? Well, what of that? As the Artist’s Way says, don’t drag your inner child to a museum unless they’re that kind of child. Or it’s that kind of museum. (I paraphrase.)

Next month (this month) I delve into Recovering A Sense of Power. Muaahahhahaaah.

January: a Sense of Safety

At last, the long-awaited (by me at least) post about What I Did This Month. (Last month.) With the Artist’s Way, that is.

Since I didn’t have my Good Idea until January was well onto its downhill run, there was not much time in which to work through Chapter One: Recovering a Sense of Safety.

The fundamental push of this chapter is to give you back the childlike feeling of being able to puddle about and create things without the terror that Mrs Danvers (or Col. Gaddafi) will leap out of the woodwork shouting “how dare you make such a repulsive mess, you miserable miscreant?!” (although really, I don’t think either of them had quite that kind of vocabulary).

In order to accomplish this, you confront the nasty critical voices of your past, and face them down with all the nice positive things you have heard, gleaned or discovered about your artist-self – or, if you have had a particularly hard go of it in that respect, the simple, stubbornly defiant statement that you have the right to create.

So nyah nyah to you.

Fortunately for the tight time-frame, I had gone through most of the exercises before. Naturally, some of the results of my exercising are not fit for public consumption (I know who lurks in the shadows of this blog) but I thought I’d share a few snippets.

I am fortunate that I have had relatively few harsh words come my way (hiding your light under a bushel works well, if you don’t mind the smoke getting in your eyes) and a few quite nice ones. But there is still the self-sabotaging voice of the internal Resistance echoing round my cranium.

I don’t think discouragement needs to take the form of words to make us doubt ourselves. So maybe we need to consider things which are not words, though they are harder to pin down and rebut. Thought In Progress.

I confess, exercise six warmed the cockles of my heart – gathering together every scrap of positive reinforcement of my validity as a writer. Took nearly a whole page of my A5 repurposed diary.

I went on an artist date, too – I went to the shop at the corner and dropped my shiny gold coin into a slot. I turned the handle, and boing, boing, boing, out came my multi-hued bouncy ball. And of course, one cannot have a bouncy ball without bouncing it.

As C. S. Lewis so aptly said (or rather wrote), “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” My hero.

The ‘alternate lives’ exercise was another bundle of fun – I’ve always wanted to be one of these:
but I don’t know of any courts that are hiring.

I really struggled with the affirmations – not the basic mechanics of it, but the meaning it. New Zealand is not one of the societies where blowing one’s own trumpet is encouraged, or even tolerated. Self-deprecation is the order of the day.

So in order to say something like “I am a channel for God’s creativity, and my work comes to good” without a trace of sarcasm is a feat which more or less requires the wearing of a funny hat with bells on.

I should make me one.

My favourite affirmation (of the ones I came up with myself) said simply this: I am meant to be a dreamer.

Next week month – that is, this month (already a quarter gone!) I shall look at recovering a sense of identity. (Who, me?)