Flow on Faith
I’ve been going through a thing. I don’t want to call it a block because it’s not a block, exactly. Block implies to me that you are blank, with no ideas or nowhere to go. What I am experiencing is just a different phase of the creative process. As Lena Dunham’s character Hannah, in Girls says in her unapologetic, yet defensive way, when she is struggling in grad school : “I’m more in a pre-writing phase.”
I am doing research for my story that I am writing. It’s my attempt to make sense of my life up until this point in a way that might teach something about what I have learned about the the path of human development, the spiritual path, the path of the artist. I have written different versions of this story. It was an 8 part blog post. It was a self-revelatory performance art piece in grad school. It’s in the lyrics of my songs, my poetry. It was countless starts of essays and monologues. It was the start of a feature-length script. But none of these quite got at the live wire inside me that needs to be plugged in.
What is the story about? Simple. It’s the story of how I learned to do the things I thought I could not do.
Including, most especially, how to tell my story.
Last month I saw a psychic for the first time. Her name was Althea. She told me that I needed to focus on this writing project, (which will include my songs and will end up as a performance as well as a book or some other art form that hasn’t been invented yet) and that it would be done in two years, and then after that, everything would easily flow out of me. In two years I will be 43. I can wait that long to be plugged into myself. But it will be hard because I tend to be very impatient with the creative process. This is why I teach the creative process—to help me to slow down. To help everyone to slow down. Althea told me what I already knew but absolutely needed to be confirmed by someone who wasn’t me, who didn’t know me, but is gifted in the other kind of knowing. She was. She also said I lived in paradise and that I had finally found peace after many years of suffering. Also true.
And so I see that this is my moment to weave my webs, make my connections, bare my soul. It will be hard. It will be painful. It will challenge me on every level of experience. But I see no choice in the matter. It must be done.
And in the meantime, I am fretting about here, my blog. This space I have created to share my process. To make contact. To check in. To record. To reflect.
I keep wondering how can I keep this up during these times that my words aren’t quite ready to come? When I don’t have my own words to share. And then I remembered: I can share the words of others. I have been reading & listening voraciously and I love sharing other people’s words when my words are still cooking.
Here is what I have been reading and listening to:
How Should A Person Be? A novel by Sheila Heti
The Art of Asking An audiobook memoir by the artist/musician Amanda Palmer
The Hero Within A Jungian self help book about archetypes and human development by Carol S. Pearson
Handling the Truth a book on writing memoir by Beth Kephart that my dad lent me.
The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. A surprisingly inspiring audiobook by a Japanese woman who has made being tidy an art form and has given me new hope for putting my life in order.
Not exactly on purpose, but sort of, I am reading only women writers.
It’s all research. Research for the many ways we can tell our story. Eventually, and possibly quite soon, I will be teaching this to others. This storytelling thing. It’s not a decision. It’s a way of life that I am growing up into. It’s, as Tara Mohr refers to callings, an inner assignment.
Everything I read turns me into a kind of chameleon of voices. I try on different voices which leads me deeper into my own point of view. It is a process of discovering one’s own voice through trying on other's voices. This is what many singers do. There is a whole book about this process called Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon. I will post quotes from it soon, even if the writer is a man.
What I just learned about chameleons in the terrarium/aquarium basement of the Pittsfield museum where I went last week with my mom and son, is that they are falsely believed to change color in order to hide. But it is not really the reason. They change colors in order to reflect their social intentions or responses to temperature change, in their own reptilian limitations: to express themselves. Trying on others’ voices is my way of figuring out where I stand. It’s the process that happens whether I want it to or not. I am newly embracing my particular processes lately. That is the joy of being an artist—embracing your way of doing things, using instincts to get you where you need to go, and above all, trusting the process.
Something in changed in me about this process of writing recently. I realized that what was missing was my faith. But I had no idea how to get it back. I find faith to be the most important ingredient to art. I lose it and find it constantly. What brought be back to faith this time was a conversation with my husband who, with out training, is a great art coach. I learn a lot from him, rather than the other way around. We decided together that coaching can only be as good as how well you know the other person. Coaching, like therapy, and teaching, and parenting, is a relationship above all else and it must acknowledge the special and unique truths of the individual’s (coachee’s) needs, goals, limitations and gifts.
I started this post thinking I had nothing at all to write. And where do I find myself now? Having written something true about where I am really at. And I will leave you with a quote, as I promised I would deliver one:
This is from A Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, which I read last summer as primary research for storytelling. I started a few blog posts about it, but never published them. This book is mind-blowingly important for the survival of humanity. I will revisit it over and over. I will share.
“Man in the world of action loses his centering in the principle of eternity if he is anxious for the outcome of his deeds, but resting them and their fruits on the knees of the Living God he is released by them, as a sacrifice, from the bondages of the sea of death. 'Do without attachment the work you have to do… Surrendering all action to Me, with mind intent on the Self, freeing yourself form longing and selfishness, fight—unperturbed by grief.'"
Here, on this blog, I lay the byproducts & fruits of my alchemical experiments, the labor of my gifts, at your knees.
Take them or leave them, either way, destiny is within & without.