In case you missed my first post, let me explain. My friend and one of my favorite bloggers Justine is hosting a read-a-long for Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Justine provides prompts for each section of the book on her blog, and invites readers to respond in the comments or send her an email. I decided to blog my response.
Justine’s prompt for the second section of the book are:
- When it hits you, what does inspiration feel like in your body? Fluttery, like my whole body is suddenly buzzing and jittery, stomach full of butterflies and head full of bees, but also floaty, like gravity has stopped working, and hot, on fire — but weirdly, considering the previous descriptors, completely still and quiet, calm.
- How have you said “yes” and how have you said “no” to ideas and inspiration in the past? I’m going to flip my answer and give the bad news first — I said “no” to ideas and inspiration for almost 35+ years. I got “the call” in the 2nd grade. It was so clear and I was so sure, so excited and ready, but from then on it got very, very confusing. There was still the occasional buzz, but I just wasn’t available. I had to work through so much before I could be ready, and yet, in the end, it wasn’t about being ready at all. I wasn’t ready when my first dog and my dear friend were both diagnosed with cancer. I wasn’t ready when they died. And yet, that experience happened anyway, and it broke me open. I couldn’t go back to the way things were, so I really didn’t have a choice. I said the biggest yes ever — to finding myself again, to living a creative life, to staying awake, to being present, to keeping my heart open.
And with that, I said “yes” to starting a blog, reading and studying and learning, attending workshops and retreats and conferences, finding a community, publishing places other than on my blog, being a teaching assistant for Mondo Beyondo, putting together the Self-Compassion Saturday series and then the ebook, becoming certified to teach yoga, getting another dog (then losing another dog to cancer and getting yet another dog), becoming the Communications Coordinator for the English department at CSU, shifting the way I thought about money, working to simplify my life, taking Buddhist vows, teaching yoga, teaching workshops and classes that are a mix of yoga and writing and meditation, working on a book, forgiving myself, befriending myself.
I said “no” to doing things because I thought I should, pleasing/perfecting/pretending/performing, staying in projects and relationships that were toxic, alcohol, waiting for permission, dieting, starving and stuffing myself, people who don’t love or even see me, anyone else’s idea of what I’m supposed to look like, things I don’t need anymore, teaching for CSU, denying myself, smashing myself to bits. Maybe these yeses and nos don’t seem like they are all related to inspiration and creativity, but believe me, they are.
- Is there an idea trying to “wave you down” right now? What’s keeping you from saying “yes” to it? There are a few — some classes and workshops I want to offer, a creativity club I want to start, and “the book.” The poor book doesn’t get the time or space it needs to come together, even though I’ve already written probably at least 70% of it. I let myself get distracted by work, by constructing new work, by other writing, by all the stuff and projects of my life. I sure hope it doesn’t give up on me, pass me by. When I think about it, I feel like I should pray or something, but all I can think of to say is “please don’t give up on me, please wait for me.” I think there’s some part of me that doesn’t understand how to write a book, worries I won’t be able to figure it out.
- Do you identify with the tormented artist or the cooperating joyfully approach more? What can you do to make creativity more of a partnership? I think I’m a tormented person in general, dissatisfied because I want SO MUCH but I’m only human, only have so much time and energy. I see the list of ALL THE THINGS, hold it in my mind and heart all the time, and the longing can feel overwhelming, so much bigger than what I can actually do. And I skip right past celebrating where I am, enjoying what I’m doing, into “but what about…” I do try in my regular practices to offer an invitation, to open myself up to what might arise. I do this when I meditate every morning, and I do it when I write my morning pages, even addressing them to “Dear One” and signing off with “Thank you.” A partnership would require more focused attention from me, I think. To be with what is right now without rushing off, to slow down, to balance my effort with ease. I think creativity needs me to spend more time staring at my toes, day dreaming, doing nothing.
- What are your expectations surrounding your creative genius? Are you showing up consistently, upholding your end of the partnership? I am definitely doing the work. I show up every day. Discipline in that way isn’t my issue. I think my problem right now is I’m not letting my creative genius help. I’m so busy with the doing that there’s no room for it, no space. It can’t get a word in edgewise. I haven’t left a place for it, need to scoot over, slow down, surrender to it.