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




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





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

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Power and Anger: AW Check-In #3

penI can’t say that my experience with chapter 3 was any better than my experience with chapter 2. This week dealt with reclaiming power, whatever that means. There is a lot of discussion in this chapter about anger, guilt, shame, and other emotions. The author says that this week I should be feeling these strong emotions. She is correct. I’ve been in a pretty bad mood this week; however, I don’t think it has anything to do with writing. It has everything to do with dealing with life and reality this week.

The author writes that anger is the fuel for action and thus to regaining my sense of personal power. She writes that instead of using anger in destructive ways, I should channel it into action. I assume she means anger fuels the action that empowers my creativity. (It is hard to follow her train of thought here). Since I do not want my writing to be laden with a lot of anger and negativity, I’m going to just pitch that whole notion away. A wise person told me, just last night, that true power comes from not trying to control people and situations, but instead from controlling our reactions to them. This takes anger right out of the equation regarding my creativity.

In answer to the weekly questions, I wrote morning pages every day except a couple of times they were not quite three pages. My artist date was going hat shopping, but I also engaged in some little mini dates with myself involving music-making and dance.

Of course, I completely ignored her task list and engaged in my own. I continued organizing both my computer and physical writing notebooks and reviewed some old writing projects that I had abandoned. I zeroed in on what I have labeled a “pre-draft” of a novel I wrote five years ago for NanoWrimo. I asked a couple of writing buddies to read the first chapter and let me know if the opening grabbed them. I created a bullet list of tasks in my notebook which includes re-reading the entire pre-draft and making notes of both substantial and minor changes. I may keep working with this piece, rewriting it completely, or I may only need a few minor changes and a little more fleshing out, or I may abandon it once again. The main thing is that I am writing and moving forward.

You might be wondering by now that if I so dislike this program then why am I continuing to engage in it. That is because I committed to it and I’m going to see it through.  I doubt that I will ever do The Artist’s Way again, but at least I can say that I did it once.


The Artist’s Way Week 2 Check-In: Just Do It


I have reached the point in reading the book where, in my past attempts at it, I was tempted to slam shut the cover or pitch it across the room. It is not because of what the author writes, it is how she writes. Chapter 2 is titled “Recovering a Sense of Identity,” and opens with this: “This week addresses self-definition as a major component of creative recovery. You may find yourself drawing new boundaries and staking out new territories as your personal needs, desires, and interests announce themselves. The essays and tools are aimed at moving you into your personal identity, a self-defined you.” (Cameron, 41)

The problem is that it doesn’t– or at least I’m not seeing this in the text. Oh, there is useful, insightful material on writers’ block, “poison playmates, ” “crazymakers,” and other hindrances to the creative process, but if these issues serve to help us self-identify as creatives, then the author did not do a good job in bringing her arguments back to support her thesis. If I were my high school English teacher, this chapter would have gone back to the author with red comments and a request to rewrite it.

But this post is not a book review. It is a review of my progress in developing a healthy identity as a creative person. So to that end, this past week I created my own task list. This week I simply did what writers do. I engaged in activities that made me write, prepare to write or edit what I did write.

I dug back into my files and pulled out storylines and character profiles I had started and then abandoned. I set up both computer and physical project notebooks for my research and development. I also wrote several short blog posts this week.

Yes, I did stick to the program inasmuch as I did my morning pages every day, went on an artist date (see the post on setting up my creative corner) and by reviewing and writing out creative affirmations.

I can give the author some credit: since I started the program a couple of weeks ago I have seen some movement and breakup of creative blockages,. However, I wonder if this has as much to do with my own work and commitment to my creative recovery. We’ll see.  In the meantime, I’m just going to do it!

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The Artist’s Way, Week One Check-in: Warrior Woman

[Note: my program week goes from Monday to Monday but my schedule may require that weekly tasks, dates, and postings overlap. For example, I did my second week artist’s date before I posted this first week chec-in.]

Week 1 Check-in:

I was able to start my week with an Artist’s Date, write morning pages every day, and do a couple of the prescribed tasks.  Now it’s time for the….(dramatic drumroll)… “The Check-in”, a summary of the take-aways of this week’s lesson.

The title of the first week’s chapter is “Recovering a Sense of Safety.”

Okay, so the first question that came to mind as I read the chapter was “what is ‘safe’?” and second, “safe from what?”.

The answer is that “safe” is my ability to make external creative expressions without being “attacked.” Creativity cannot thrive when it is threatened. What is the nature of the threats and attacks?  Who is threatening and attacking me? Easy: my own negative core beliefs about myself.  It is my self-loathing and lack of esteem as a Creative, those negative perceptions of myself as being unworthy of calling myself a writer or artist.

Whenever an attack comes, one needs weapons to fight back. Weapons are provided in the tasks given in the chapter. I selected two: rewriting any negative statements made in my morning pages into positive affirmations. For example, one negative comment I made: “My writing is simplistic and naive.” I rewrote it: ‘My writing is clear, uncomplicated, and straightforward.”

Another task was to create a “Hall of Fame” where I identify and contain my “monsters” and “champions”. I am not going into great detail here, but let me just say that anyone, no matter how close, who has not supported my endeavors, who smirked or yawned as I attempted to show or explain my work are my “monsters”. (You don’t have to like my work, but I do insist that you respect it, me, and my process.). Conversely, my champions are the ones who encourage my work. (Again, you don’t have to like what I do, but just wish me God’s Speed on my journey).

I started this program with my Artist’s Date, which I describe a couple of posts ago. Listening to those ancient drums shake the room stirred up something in me as well. They were like war drums calling me to war — a war to protect my creative spirit.

Into battle, I go.

Coming up next week: Recovering a Sense of Identity.  (I posted on my second week Artist’s Date yesterday).

ljgloyd (c) 2017   Image: Female Samurai warrior riding into battle.




Starting The Artist’s Way, Again

homegirl cafe angelas green potionI was gliding across the blogo-vlogosphere this weekend and I noticed a large number of Creatives are engaging in The Artist’s Way program and posting their reflections and insights on their social media platforms.   (For those readers not familiar with the book/program, please click here for a quick explanation.)

I have attempted to do the program several times,  but I always got bogged down by the author’s meandering and unfocused writing style and would eventually give up the reading.   However, the tools the author insists that Creatives follow in overcoming their expressive blocks and reclaiming the inner Artist have been amazingly useful.   One tool consists of writing “morning pages”, three pages of long hand writing done every morning upon waking.  Even if one is not a writer, this journaling activity helps the Creative break up and move through blockages.     Another tool is the Artist’s Date, a regular activity to stimulate and refresh the creative output.

I was so inspired by what others have been doing with the program that I decided to give it another go.  I went on an Artist’s Date this weekend (see the previous post) and this morning I did Morning Pages writing.    I will try to do the readings and I intend to post my Check-ins each week here.

I don’t have the courage and lack of vulnerability to vlog about my experience, so I will stick to writing about them here.  However, I will enjoy other Creatives’ vlogs, such as this one by Burgess  Taylor.