Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Friday, January 27, 2006

Week Three

I am so glad this week is over. I want to be the kind of person who finds blessings and grows from a week like this one, but I'm sticking to my story that it sucked and I'm glad it's over. I just want to get in bed and sleep all weekend. If I didn't have a baby to take care of I would get really wasted.

I mentioned that there was a lot of anger and scarcity going on for me this week. My husband and I fought almost every single day. Every day was jammed with business and busy-ness. I did morning pages two out of seven days. I just could not find time to devote to them and when I did find a little parcel of time here and there, I simply was not called to write the pages; one day I ended a half-page in with "I cannot sit here and write and drink chai while my baby cries..."

Though I pretty much blew off the homework, I kind of felt like I was doing the AW this week in an experiential way. Example. A friend of mine came upon some great good (and well deserved) fortune recently and got some writing published. Like a complete and total child, I had a private tantrum to the tune of Why not me? Why not me!!! I got angry and I realized that my anger is at myself - for not trying. For making lists of ideas and pieces to work on and submit and then never following through. So I made a committment to submitting 10 pieces of writing per month to different venues: contests, magazines, etc. I went web surfing and found only 3 venues that seemed worthwhile and bookmarked them. Sigh. I realize 10 is ambitious but if I do 5 that will be a lot more than I'm doing now.

So there was that. Then, on a more positive note, a friend called yesterday to tell me that the company she works for is interested in hiring a freelance writer and she plugged me and they are very excited to see my writing samples! Hello synchronicity! (Have I put anything together and mailed it? No! WTF is up with me? I will do it this weekend.)

Had an artist's date today at the art supply store. I was looking for a few things for the journal I'm working on (that's almost done and I promise I'll get pictures up ASAP) and I had great fun looking at all the colored pencils and crayons and sketchbooks, though I'd have no idea what to do with these items. I cruised the batik section with a touch of nostalgia, remembering the steal-your-face I batiked for an old flame more than 10 years ago. Batik is something I'd do in my ideal life. I know this means I should get to it without futher ado, but seriously, I really can't get into it without S P A C E. Lots of space and supplies and time and planning and care is required for batik. And there's the scarcity: I don't have access to those things right now.

Intention: I was thinking today of finding three other women to sing harmony with, most likely in the form of a small ensemble that sings sacred music, chants, the occasional Jane Siberry song. We would be an all-girl, a cappella group, with no fuss over instruments or gear. We would sing in the park, in unexpected places. I have no idea if I could pull this off, but I long to make harmony with women in some way.

I made some kick-ass chili tonight. Also, I had great walks this week and have been eating consciously. These things are very important to me and lifelong struggles. The fact that I showed myself that kind of consideration during a week full of drama is a sign that something is shifting. Oh it's good.

I'm sooooooooo glad this week is over. I'll be a better recovering creative next week. Really I will.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Little bit for now

Just ducking in between chores...struck by Eliza's statement:

I am afraid that if I start dreaming I'll want a different life.

That really stuck to me. I'm pretty sure I do want another life. I want to keep most of the key players in this one, but I think to myself: What's the sense in dreaming of moving to northern New England or going on solo writer's retreat in Ireland or whatever when I can't see a way it will ever be possible?

I know this attitude is bullshit, but I didn't realize how full of it I was. Ha!

This week has been very activating for me. The theme of Anger and also Scarcity is hitting me right between the eyes. Damnit! I'll write more later...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Week Two in Review

Let's see...I did morning pages 4 days this week. Didn't feel too inspired by the reading, I admit. But, my journal project is on the drawing board and I also redesigned my other blog, Blueberry Pie. It just had a standard Blogger theme going on before (not that there's anything wrong with that...) and I was sort of getting tired of it. So I designed a new header and changed the template, which took more bravery than it did skill or creativity. I was holding my breath as I clicked Use This Template! I like it for now. I felt so crushed this week; it seemed as if every day was comprised of seamless running around and multitasking.

My blog has been my main creative endeavor for the last four months. It started out as a record of my daughter's first year and has expanded a bit to include my philosophical musings and post-partum angst. I love writing it, and I have to remember not to get too hung up on Is it good? I just want it to be honest. Honest, entertaining and highly readable. (Is that too much to ask? Is it wrong or inauthentic to want my writing to be read and loved? Am I supposed to be doing it for myself? I've been wondering about these things.)

I would like to go on a writing retreat, or do a writing workshop. Or take a class. Or something to breathe some new life into my writing. In the shower the other night I was trying to think of words I rarely use that make me feel good. Peony came to mind. It all started because I was thinking how I couldn't wait to get up the next morning and have homemade chai and hemp waffles with peanut butter and honey. The language alone was nurturing. But I digress.

1. sing, esp with other people
2. walk in the woods
3. go to museums
4. lounge in coffeeshops and bookstores
5. have guests over for a lovely meal that I cooked
6. write
7. watch Six Feet Under
8. go to music festivals
9. write letters
10. take road trips
11. read books
(I never make time for books. Just magazines and blogs.)
12. make movies
13. be around plants
14. sleep in
15. talk philosophy/God
16. collage
17. watch movies
18. have a massage
19. batik
20. listen to Irish music

(Lists are so neat and tidy, aren't they?)

1. I would like to learn Italian.
2. I would like to go to Italy.
3. I would like to walk every day, work up to running
and run a 5K in April.
4. I would like to learn Appalachian clogging.
5. I would like to have a garden.
6. I would like to sing with Jane Siberry.
7. I would like to make a documentary about mothers and daughters.
8. I would like to paint Tessa's room.
9. I would like to sell a bunch of my books to a used book store.
1o. I would like to spend more time with my girlfriends.

For my Artist's date this week, I went on a long walk in the woods. The weather has been so mild and the relative warmth awakens this ambrosial, earthen scent. It smells sort of vernal, sort of peppery, somewhere between freshness and decay. Completely intoxicating.

On to Week Three...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I've been very spotty with the daily pages this week. Done 'em some days, not others, partially some days. And the tasks? No, haven't really gone there. Sure I've daydreamed about five more lives (a botanist, an Italian contessa, a biodynamic farmer/surfer in Hawaii, a midwife, a trainer of service dogs)...but I do that outside of the AW, so it hardly counts! Artist's Date has yet to happen. Am I even qualified to say I'm doing The Artist's Way this week?!

However. I am working on a art project! It's a jornal for my friend's 40th birthday. It's a very fine, handmade, leather-bound book that I picked up at Jazz Fest a few years ago and inside I am collaging (is that a word?) selected pages. I am in the layout phase right now; no glue has been spilled although scissors have been wielded with abandon. It's my first project of this type and I am LOVING IT. Oh, the paper. The words. I get so turned on by paper and words, text and texture, color and context. I am staging imagescapes that I think will resonate with some of my friend's passions: Italy, flowers, and our shared love of the film A Room with a View.

I'll post some pictures of it when I have a chance. Until then, wishing you all beauty and inspiration.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Notes from Week One

I play guitar and sing. When I was 20, I played one of my first open mic nights. I did my three songs and stepped down. There was a dude there, an older dude who played guitar in a band, a real band. He said to me:

Yeah, uh, keep it up. Keep practicing guitar. I really admire a singer who can play her instrument.

This seems completely innocuous now, but at the time, and for too long a time after, I made it mean:

I can't play guitar. I will never be good enough. Voice is my instrument and that will never be enough; I must be an act to have an audience. The music scene is a boys club. There is no place there for me.

I did an erotic writing worksop when I lived in Northampton, MA about, hmmm, 6-7 years ago now. It was very powerful for me; I wrote wildly uninhibited pieces and shared them. It was a really good exercise to write about sex. It forced me to give myself permission around an obviously taboo subject and embrace whatever came out or came up in the process. I was writing from a place of pure pleasure and constantly reminding myself, Go ahead, write it! What's the worst that could happen? That permission is an act of self-love and essential to authentic expression in any medium. I treasure that lesson! The leader was a huge champion of my creativity and though we've lost touch, I miss her and think of her so fondly.

Connected with that workshop, I spoke with a woman who had some of her erotic writing published. I thought maybe I'd be interested in getting some of my writing published - someday. I asked her about her experience. How did she do that? Did she have an agent? I was completely naive about such things (still am) but it felt safe to ask, fresh out of the arms of this wonderful workshop. Well, her response sort of felt like a bucket of cold water in the face. She basically told me that not just anybody can get published, that you get rejected a lot before you maybe get accepted, that pulishers aren't just looking for the same old hackneyed thing that most people submit...on and on like this. She never answered my questions. And, she offered all this without ever reading a word of my writing.

I took this really personally at the time. Maybe I only heard what I was afraid I'd hear, since I have always had this resistance to asking for help. But I pretty much made it mean that my writing was not good enough to be published, and that there was some magical, mystical formula to getting your words in print that I would never have access to because I was not cool, educated, credentialed, connected or talented enough. And I never would be.

Today, I can honestly say that the echos of these creative buzzkills are oh-so-faint. I do not believe what I heard them say. Now I believe that anything is possible. It's just a matter of setting my mind to it! (Now I'm just trying to dislodge the block that prevents me from setting my mind to it, damnit!)

On a lighter note, an incomplete list of who I'd be in an alternate life:

A farmer's wife and mother of 6 in Ireland
A boho writer/photographer in San Fran
A singing/dancing sensation on Broadway!
A Buddhist Nun
Natalie MacMaster

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Artist Date #1

You can read about my Artist Date here. I'm off to make a decorated journal for my friend's 40th birthday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My first .psd!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
After declaring my fear of Photoshop recently, I jumped in.
Simple, but a major victory for me!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Weeding the Garden

So far, my morning pages are home to lots of petty, useless complaining. What a reality check: you mean I carry that shit around with me all the time?

Wanna hear some of my negative core beliefs?

I don’t have good enough ideas.
I will do bad work and not know it and look like a fool.
I will never have any real money.
I need money to be an artist.
I can’t write fiction.
I’d need a gimmick to sell a book or a CD.
I'd never be able to sell an honest representation of myself because while family and friends say I'm good, I'm basically a watered-down version of ___. (Insert name of someone who has already made it.)
I can’t ask for help because no one wants to help me and I don’t want to hear “No”.
S/he can write/sing better than me and there’s no place for me out there.
There is a limit to what I can create in both quantity and quality.
I'm not cool enough to have a successful book/recording/blog.
I'm not original/unique enough to attract an audience.
Successful artists live in New York or LA or Taos.

I had a revelation yesterday while reading from Week One. In past trials of AW, I have really resisted the blurts and affirmations part. It just seems so hokey and new agey. (Bear with me here, I know I'm being a cynical asshole. I hope no one minds that I swear a lot.) My blurts are usually some version of Who do you think you are?, born out of the negative beliefs above. In theory, I know affirmations work. But when I try one on - I, Teri, am a fabulously original writer - the same thought always follows: But I don't know that to be true! How can I speak something FALSE into existence?

And then came my epiphany: So why do I take the negative core beliefs, the blurts, as gospel? My blurts are not the truth, but I have no trouble repeating them over and over to myself. I don't necessarily know that I can't write fiction or that there's no room for me in the world of successful creatives because I'm not special, but somehow I choose that thinking over a positive, self-affirming inner soundtrack.

Fascinating, Captain.

There are an infinite number of great ideas available to me.
There are enough ideas in the universe for everyone.
I, Teri, am a fabulously original writer.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ready Set Go

january sky
Originally uploaded by tessa's mom.
As vast as I've found the blogosphere through my familiarity with mama bloggers, I am bowled over by this whole new wonderful branch of artists and writers I stumbled upon as a result of Blogging the Artist's Way. Thanks to Christina at My Topography, where I first saw it mentioned. I am soooo happy to have found all of you who are participating. My reading list has grown considerably!

So, I've been reading the first 24 pages and encountering some familiar resistance. But I realize that's okay and I intend to push through it and give myself to the work with a beginner's mind. (As much as possible.) No MP out of me yet, surprise. I spent the morning cleaning the house so I could sit down guilt-free and do some creative work, whether that was writing some pages or posting or whatever. I was pretty distracted, with Tessa peeping and playing and requiring my intermittent attention, so finally I nursed her down and instead of writing, I continued cleaning and fed myself lunch and before I knew it, she was awake and Me Time was over.

I think this is going to be one of my obstacles: feeling guilty about Me Time. It's been a rocky transition from gainfully employed to SAHM. I LOVE being a mother more than anything and I actually do get little bits of time to myself here and there during the day. But when I have a little chunk of time to myself, I always feel like I should spend it cleaning or otherwise contributing to the household, especially since I'm not contributing financially. In fact, if I did have a paying job, I wouldn't feel one bit of guilt about writing or playing or going to museums or on walks. I would feel entitled to those things. Now, I don't. That's how much value I have assigned to money, and how little I assign to my creativity.

But these are just more reasons to do the work. I'm convinced that the fruits of my creativity could provide for my family, it's just a matter of nurturing the soil.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Fuck yeah!

OMG. So, after publicly declaring that I was going to do The Artist's Way, I awoke the next morning and the FIRST thought I had was WTF was I thinking! I simply cannot add one more thing to my day. Especially morning pages! Not only have I announced my commitment to the blogosphere, I've launched a recruiting effort. There's no going back. I'm screwed.

On top of that, I could not find my copy of The Artist's Way. I've had the book for many years. I think I got it sometime in the mid-90s, when my life was so different I might as well have been another person. I had no attachments. I barely had expenses; I think I paid $236/month in rent. I had oodles of time to devote to an intensive writing program, though I didn't realize it then. Silly girl.

This morning I was determined to find the book. I can't purchase another copy - I'm that broke. So I went spelunking in the mammoth third-floor closet. I dug and dug and dug and dug some more and finally, in the farthest corner of the closet, buried under a bunch of crap was a box of books and in it was The Artist's Way.

I had a considerable rush over this. I'm psyched that I found the book and delighted over the metaphor of it all: that this wonderful tool I've had for so long was buried away and I went searching for it, not stopping until I recovered it, that I overcame my usual apathy to inititate the search and follow through with my stated intention, that I discovered my deep desire (obscured by laziness and scarcity) to unearth my creative flow, and that I actually found what I was looking for in a pile of old shit.

I was having an inner debate about how to do the morning pages. At first I thought I would prefer to blog them, since for some reason this medium really calls to me. I was sort of preparing to defend myself (against whom!?) because I seem to recall that Julia insists the MP be handwritten. So I reconsidered and decided to do them longhand, a) because no one wants to read my MP, b) making them public would kick up the volume on my Inner Critic and the writing would likely be hyper-edited and inauthentic, defeating the purpose and c) because since I got my laptop last December, I have pretty much abandoned pen and paper. And we used to be so close. So it will be good for me to use some of the blank paper I have sitting around just waiting to spontaneously combust.

Disclaimer: I am not going to pay TOO much attention to spelling/grammar in this endeavor. This will be very hard for me. But I just want the writing to flow without getting too hung up on mechanics. I must remind myself that technical errors and bad form can ALWAYS be corrected later.

Okay. Time to read the first 24 pages.