Trust Me ‘The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living’ Socrates
I blogged about journal writing some time ago on here, well, earlier last month, but it feels like a long time ago, having written literally thousands of words since then!
My Journal Looks Like It’s Been Written By A Spider. There are 4 Years Worth – Hundreds And Thousands Of Words -Phew! It’s My Very Own Writing Retreat
My journal writing experience first began after reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and I was pretty resistant to the whole concept and grumpily took up my pen to begin. That was at the beginning of 2009 and I am already 320 pages through this year’s second volume of the journal which by sheer coincidence began on the 1st January 2012. They take around 3 months to fill.
It’s always written in black pen, on plain pages and looks the same every day; it’s like a black string that trails after me through my life and I didn’t realise just how attached to it I was. Still, nothing lasts for long; everything has the habit of gradually metamorphosing into something else, so I guess something was going to change.
I bought a new book entitled, Journey To The Self’ Twenty Two Paths To Personal Growth by Kathleen Adams. I am always incredibly sceptical about any book with such a title and I have the urge to read them in a brown paper cover because I just feel a bit squirmy and uncomfortable when books begin with lines such as: If love’s the greatest gift of all, each day of my life is Christmas…etc. etc’ I can’t bear it, like putting sugar in tea, it’s completely unpalatable. However, (both a very significant adverb and conjunction in this particular case) having paid for the book I thought I should continue, it seemed a bit lame giving up after the first phrase, even I’m not THAT truculent!
I flicked through, dismissed, flicked through, read a little more, thought, ‘I know this’, until I reached the section called ‘Dialogue’. I sidestepped the religious comment and continued, like a frantic grocery shopper I sometimes give ideas less than a couple of seconds before I make my ‘idea’ purchase so she had little time left!
In the next section the author suggested having a dialogue with a body part…riiiight….pauses….thinks, ‘what the hell?’ or an addiction, or an allergy, or a body sub personality (thin self, fat self, addict etc). You could even use pain. This concept seemed so way out there I thought that maybe I might give it a go….as you do……
I left the book on the side table and went off to do other things. I vaguely thought about having a dialogue with my writer self (my artist child as Julia Cameron would call it) but soon forgot all about the idea as the pressing chores of the day took hold.
Being a freelance writer is like walking onto a different stage set every morning. I have been writing about negative equity, outsourcing projects, copywriting, erotica, Italian cheeses, taking a painting holiday, blogging about Portugal and espresso machines. In addition I am negotiating with a cover illustrator for my children’s novel and am grappling with a novel about Portugal. In between I write my journal, emails to friends and the odd postcard!
So, after that kind of day I flopped into bed but was startled awake at about five in the morning with questions I should be asking my writer self. She had obviously been waiting all day to be interviewed and had lost patience. There was no point in trying to sleep as metaphorically she was pulling at my sleeve. In a daze, I turned on the bedside lamp, one of those whose bulb makes the room look like it’s midday and picked up my journal. Suddenly I met great resistance, ‘We’ve always written in straight lines right across the page, I don’t want to write dialogue.’ FFS, I felt as if I was refereeing some playground squabble. Perhaps I really am going mad? What on earth was going on?
I finally made the decision that one day out of a thousand, we would not go right across the page and started to write with some metaphorical throat clearing as I felt rather embarrassed.
‘Good morning, how are you feeling today?’ (I slammed the brake down hard on my sceptisim)
‘Tired, lacking in youthfulness and energy, but ok’ was the reply.
Hell, she sounded like some ageing movie star a ‘no one wants to look at me anymore’ type; was I actually going to like this person I had intended to interview?
‘Is there something bothering you?’ I wrote, a closed question in the hope she would say no.
‘I’m thinking about dying’ came back the reply.
I had been to a funeral the day before and was so moved by the whole Catholic ritual I knew I had just witnessed a new opening to the novel I had previously thought was complete, so it was on my mind to be fair.
‘What’s your problem? Once you’re gone, you’re gone, nothing to worry about. I wrote in my best sympathetic tone
‘But I’m not ready yet, there is too much to do.’ It was kind of plaintive
So that was the heart of it and four sides later I had been through a profound/cathartic/metaphysical, bonkers (delete as appropriate) experience. I was told in no uncertain terms what she really thought of me, how ridiculous I was in looking for solutions to my creative needs through other people, putting my creative energies into relationships instead of putting them on the page. Crumbs I received a right telling off. At that point I felt my pen was merely the conduit, the ink flowed and although, of course they were my words, they were coming from somewhere else. I shut up and kept writing.
“>I finished the piece at just gone six and felt like I understood so much more about how I worked, what I thought, what I felt and the things that set me back. One of the lines was, ‘I have not even begun, I am just waiting for you to give me control, to trust me; I know you so well’
So, that’s what I intend. Ironically she said so much that on the final page of the journal her words spread right across from one side to the other, can’t let these movie stars have all their own way now, can we?Tags: journal writing, Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way Julia Cameron, writing retreat