Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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Standing Strong on my Own Two Feet: AW Check-in Week 8 (AKA Giving It Up)

underwood typewriterThis is my last check-in. I JUST CANNOT STAND THIS PROGRAM.

Not surprisingly, once again we have a chapter where the author entitles it as one way, makes a goal statement out of line with that title and then offers a discussion unrelated to either the title or the stated goals:  restoring Strength, managing time, surviving criticism?  Which is it?  Beats the heck out of me.

That being said, the bulk of the chapter has to do with the criticisms creatives receive that block the creative process.   I agree that one cruel, thoughtless statement about a creative work can absolutely destroy the confidence of a creative, but it is unrealistic to think that we will never have that happen to us so we best get used to pulling on our big-girl panties and dealing with it.

As much as I love getting positive affirmations of my work (please keep them coming), I don’t mind receiving criticism if it is warranted and kindly offered.   Such criticism usually makes me dig in my heels and do an “I’ll-show-you” re-write.  As a result I will usually end up producing a better work.   It doesn’t matter if the criticism comes from another creative friend or from a college instructor.  I’ll take the criticism, if it is fair, and do something with it.

In this chapter, the author shows quite a bit of disdain for academia in general and academic criticism in particular.  She writes that the “Ivory Power” has done more to cripple creatives than anything else.   I cannot hold with that view.  Yes, I had a few college professors who I thought were not being fair, but for the most part, I respected their knowledge and opinions.  For example, my usual process for writing college papers was to take a general idea, develop a tentative thesis, and research it.  If the research supported the statement, I would continue with it and write the paper; however, if the research proved my thesis wrong, then I would change it to fit the research.   However, one semester in my undergraduate program, a professor insisted that we turn in an outline first and it was against this outline that the paper was graded.   In other words, I could not change my thesis midstream; I had to stick with the outline.   As much as I wailed and moaned about him “quenching my creative process”,  I did thorough and proper research FIRST and then CAREFULLY crafted my thesis statement.   Not only did this make me a better researcher, I ended up with a superior paper that allowed me to get an A in the course.  Furthermore, this paper became the seed for my master’s level research paper I wrote a few years later.

So what does this have to do with my weekly AW check-in?   Not much.   Because of the incongruities of the chapter’s stated purpose and the author’s disdain for the environment that ultimately made me a better writer, I closed down and did not work the program much this week.   I only did a couple unenthusiastic sets of morning pages and at the time of this writing, no artist date.

The good news is that towards the end of the week, I had an unexpected second wind sweep in, and I came up with an idea for a series of blog posts to be written and posted in April.  Maybe the key for recovering MY sense of strength is to throw off advice that doesn’t work for me and make my own strong artistic stand.

My intention two months ago when I started this program was to overcome a block.  I think I have.   Could it have been from doing the required morning pages? Going on the artists dates?  Maybe.  I’ll give the program some credit for that. But I think it had more to do with my own resolve and  commitment to the process

And I can’t give any book or self-help maven any credit for that.

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Finally, A Useful Insight: AW Check-In Week 7

imageI admit I was harsh last week — and most of the previous weeks — in my check-in(s).   This week, though,  I must congratulate the author for providing some material that has given me a useful insight.  In fact, I have to admit that she may have changed the course of my creative endeavors.

The theme of chapter 7 is “recovering a sense of connection,”  with the goal of “excavating areas of genuine creative interest as you connect with your personal dreams.”   The way  one connects with the inner creative self is doing the morning pages and going on artist’s dates.  This gets one past the obstacles that so treacherously cause one to trip.

I do find that writing the morning pages the first thing after waking helps me to tap into some sources of unconscious inspiration.  One of the tasks in this chapter was to create an “autobiographical collage”.  I did a collage of found images early in the week shortly after reading the chapter.  It depicts a hand rising from a cave reaching towards the sky.   This illustrates my unconscious material coming to light.

The author also discusses two obstacles in connecting to inspiration and making subsequent creative output:  perfectionism and jealousy.   Although I feel compelled to apply my best efforts to any undertaking, there is a freedom in knowing I can never be perfect.  There is no perfect writing or art piece I can create so I might as well just relax and enjoy the process.  Similarly, trying to outshine another creative is a manifestation of jealousy.   I may strive to create in a particular genre or medium I don’t really enjoy or excel because I want to be like some other writer or artist.

So what is the useful insight for me?  I don’t really enjoy the novel writing process; I’m just jealous of the celebrity, great or small, that being a novelist may garner for fifteen minutes.  I would much rather continue doing what I’ve always done: blogging, writing poems, essays and the occasional short story, and maybe arting about things that interest me.  Coming into this awareness, I am released from the tyranny of perfecting a genre I don’t enjoy.  But who knows?  Maybe that release will end up allowing me to create something truly spectacular.

In other words, I am learning to enjoy the ride towards an unknown destination.

ljg 2017

 

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The Cosmic Santa Claus: AW Check-In, Week 6

For me, to live abundantly has more to do with enjoying the non-tangibles that provide a quality of life than it does money or things. Not so for the author. In chapter 6 she devotes several pages on how to enjoy luxurious living and acquiring money. She even draws God into the equation. Just ask the universe for whatever you want and you will get it. Want that all-expense paid trip to Europe? Done. Want to blow off the day job so you can go and pursue your art form? God’s got you covered.

Here is what I believe about abundant living: yes, God cares. He provides all my needs. He even delights in giving me my desires. But he will not give me anything that is not ultimately for my good, or conflict with what I truly need. God is not some sort of cosmic Santa Claus. He is more interested in providing me with peace, love, and wisdom than things. The day job IS his means of providing for my needs. Abundant living is being content in whatever state I find myself and being thankful for it — not whether I should buy myself fresh raspberries in the winter just because I deserve the self-pampering.

For me this chapter was a waste of time. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next six if they all are like this one.


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Playtime and Possibilities: AW Check-in Week 5

playtime I’ve been playing around all week rather than working on any serious writing.

Please understand:  I did write every day, mostly my morning pages or entries in other dedicated journals.  And I have continued chipping away on the review of the novella I wrote five years ago.   Oh, yes, and I did several blog posts this week.  However, I have spent a good portion my time outside of the day-job fooling around on social media or playing with my drums and other noisy toys.  My artist’s date this week was an hour on Tuesday night doing a strum stick tutorial.

The theme of this week’s AW chapter is ‘recovering a sense of possibility.”   It is an exploration of what is possible for our lives.   Well, anything is possible, says the author, if we are just open to it.  We just need to get “unstuck” and out of the way.  And maybe for me “getting out of the way” is just taking a little vacation from the work of serious writing and having a bit of playtime.   Most of my creative interests this week centered on rhythm, melody, therapeutic music-making —  all requiring a certain amount of banging around on things.  (Did you know that my car’s steering wheel is about the same size as my frame drum?).  I was like a kid ditching my homework for the playground.

Ah, but here’s how that pays off:  In playing, one engages the imagination, and imagination is essential for one is to envision possibilities.  And where we have vision, we have eventual reality.

In other words, a playful spirit brings possibilities to life.

A task described in this week’s chapter, a task to assist us in envisioning possibilities, is to make a list of things we would do if we had unlimited resources.    Here’s what I imagined:

  • Hire a personal trainer to get myself into shape.
  • Buy a great, big honkin’ djembe and learn to play it.
  • Go back to school and become proficient in a foreign language
  • Become boutique farmer growing organic veggies and fruits
  • Turn that wretched novella into a novel.

One or two of these actually might be do-able under the present circumstances.

I will keep playing and see what happens.

ljg (c) 2017

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Chopping Onions, Integrity, and the Importance of Practice: AW Check-in Week 4

Whoosh!!  That sound you hear is me blowing away my original plan to write another check-in based on all the ways I fulfilled (or not) the directives of the A.W. author.  Instead, I offer this short and hopefully painless post.

The most basic summary possible of Chapter 4 is this: Deliberate reading deprivation leads to facing a “changing self-definition” which leads to “reclaiming a sense of integrity” which breaks up the creative block.  Good advice.  I get it. Thanks, J.C.

On the contrary, I did read this week.  I read a lot.  I read the work I started five years ago and began developing edits and expansions to it.  I wrote blog posts exploring integrity and the importance of being honest.  I forced myself to write even though some days I didn’t feel like it.  Sometimes my morning pages were less than a page long.  I showed my integrity as a writer by engaging in the practice of writing.  I cannot stress enough the importance of practice.

I’ll let this film clip demonstrate:

You must practice even if it makes you cry.

ljg (c) 2017