Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Favourite book by Julia Cameron

Some years ago I read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It is full of encouragement and suggestions for the beginning creative artist. Just last year I read another of her books, Writing in this World (2002) and found it suited my needs as a more mature, more experienced creative person. Below is what I learned from Writing in this World:

She emphasizes that satisfaction comes from the creative process and from joy and pride in the finished product, not in the reviews. Commitment to one's art leads to diverse opportunities - not necessarily money right away, but opportunities.

With 35 years of experience as a writer/teacher/lyricist/creativity guru, Cameron says that she is the equivalent, in her field, of a senior partner in a law firm - that's the "level of her practice." Those of us, like Cameron, who have been practising our craft for a long time, have a right to choose who we work with, and to expect a fair return on our energy, both personally and professionally.

Creative people must be open-minded and open-hearted, receptive to new perspectives, but this desirable trait can also be an occupational hazard; it leaves us open to exploitation. People interrupt us because our work doesn't seem to them to be actual work. Far worse are "piggybackers", who pretend to want to help the artist but really want his/her energy, name and money for their projects. "As a culture," writes Cameron, "we treat writers badly." ( a sentiment I heard more than once at the TWUC AGM)

As we mature in our art we may have to distance ourselves from those who like to see us small and won't let us grow. At the same time, we often have friends who believe in us and would like to help us. "We sometimes have to tell friends how to help us," she says.

In writing this I haven't managed to convey how uplifting, encouraging and vindicating Cameron's book is. I urge you to read it for yourself.

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