Sketching

As I settled in for the last leg of the flight to Frankfurt, I continued to read Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write.  The chapter on “Sketching” was both a delight and a relief.  Cameron described her writing process – how the work flowed through her and she learned to trust the process and put words to paper, even if she wasn’t sure why they were being inserted there.  She discovered, over the years, if she initially denied the words their placement, they would always end up making their way back into the story, so she might as well trust the process at the beginning.

This is the story of my writing.  The process has been uncomfortable for me because I want to know more and have a better plan at the outset (the Virgo in me), but despite the discomfort, I have also learned to simply put the flowing words down on paper and trust the process since it has a way of working out beautifully in the end – despite myself rather than because of myself.  I’ve learned to trust my process and my goal is to develop further faith and trust in my writing.

The next piece of advice that really stuck with me, and that I am confident I will need to return to, is when we hit the wall in our writing it’s because the ego got involved.  We insist on being “great” when we write.  Her simple solution – give yourself permission to write “badly” and take away the power of the ego. It allows you to get back into the flow and rediscover the “glee of writing freely.”  I imagine I will have ample opportunity to test and be tested with this lesson.

An Author’s True Source Of Loneliness

The next, and last, chapter that I’ll share from Cameron’s book is on Loneliness. I thought this was a fabulous chapter and when I read it, my soul felt understood.  There is a common perception that writers are a lonely and even tend to me loners. Cameron thinks this is a myth – she thinks not writing is a lonely business: “If I get a dose of writing in my day, then I can actually socialize with a clear conscience. I can actually be present for the life I am having rather than living in the never-never land of the non-writing writer, that twilight place where you always “should” be somewhere else−writing−so that you can never enjoy where you actually are.”  She goes on and states that she is “lonely today because I did not write enough yesterday.  Not writing, I drop the thread of my consciousness.  I lose track of myself. It is me, my consciousness, that I am missing.  It is often disguised as missing someone else, and we do that too.”

I was moved how she shared and expressed her thoughts on the writer’s loneliness and what she believes to be its true source.  I experienced this over the course of my summer in the context of my painting.  It was the first time I experienced it and it was a powerful lack when I found myself “too busy” with work and volunteering that I didn’t have time to paint. I yearned for it. And I was off-center and felt disconnected as a result. I think that is how you know when you are on purpose – when the lack of doing it leaves you imbalanced, off kilter and disconnected.  I have the same experience when I don’t write in my journal.

I believe the following passage from Cameron tells the true story:  “Not writing is the lonely thing.  Not writing creates self-obsession. Self-obsession blocks connection with others.  Self obsession blocks connection with the self. Writing is like looking at an inner compass. We check in and we get our bearings.  Ah-ha! I am feeling, thinking, remembering… When we know accurately what it is that we are doing, we tend to be more open, accurate and affectionate in our dealings. … For this reason, I would argue that the writing life is a proof against loneliness.  It is a balm for loneliness. It is an act of connection first to ourselves and then to others.” She described the sense of longing she has when she does not write and that it can’t be filled with other activities, such as going out with friends or cleaning your office (another Virgo favorite). She becomes lonely for her soul and the only cure is to write.

This was a big Ah-Ha! moment for me. Someone just explained how a part of my life worked, a part that had previously been a mystery to me. I heard her explanation; I felt it; I understood it; and it raised a level of awareness in me−an awareness that led to self acceptance.  This was also a gift.  It was an answer to the question of how I can be more connected, to self, to others and to source. With connection comes power and with power−empowerment.  My creative side lay dormant for so long, I hadn’t known that part of my sense of lack stemmed from not feeding my soul by writing and painting.  Since discovering these answers and releasing my creativity, there is a joie de vivre that was previously unknown to me.

Perfect timing – I just landed in Frankfurt, Germany!