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Julia Cameron’s Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance

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An excerpt from the new book by Julia Cameron
Quoted with permission, from Finding Water (c) 2009 by Julia Cameron, published by Tarcher/Penguin 2010 

February 2010

Finding Water by Julia Cameron
Finding Water

by Julia Cameron
(Tarcher/Penguin, 2010)
ISBN: 978-1-58542-777-2
Buy this Book at amazon.com

 

Julia Cameron, author of Finding Water
Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron's beloved books on the creative process have sold more than three million copies. From the author of the Artist's Way comes this inspiring work. "Our challenge is finding water when we are in a spiritual drought…" says Cameron in Finding Water. The excerpt below (Week 3, Pages 67-72) are printed with permission from publisher Tarcher/Penguin. Authorlink suggests every writer will want a copy of this book on his/her shelf.

Excerpt: Week 3, Pages 67-68

Uncovering a Sense of Support

Critical to any creative journey is a sense of creative support. You must practice discernment, weeding out that which does not serve and watering the shoots you want to foster. This week’s tasks invite you to consciously interact with those who are positive on your behalf. Reaching out to others for their belief, you will also reach within and steady your personal confidence. If you had the faith, what might you try? This week’s explorations will lead you into knowing your own mind.

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
Mark Twain

Friends to the Work

 

Early this morning my phone rang. It was a fellow writer checking in. We have made a plan to piggyback on each other’s energy for a while. She is having a hard time writing a book proposal. I m having a hard time writing, period. Her last proposal didn’t sell and she is discouraged. Stymied, she goes to the page and comes up dry. She is struggling with a stubborn block. I struggle with blocks myself, and so I am a willing conspirator to help dismantle hers.

I love the idea for her new proposal and am convinced it will sell quickly and well. She needs only to finish up her first draft and then do some quick fixes to the top of the proposal, adding in more anecdotes to make it more reader-friendly. Crippled by fear and discouragement, she has found it impossible to do this work, work normally well within her range. A survivor of similar blocks, I am a compassionate witness to her creative struggle. Her check-in call helps send me to the page. We are both in this together—“this” being a life in the arts.

The worst solitude is to be destitute of sincere friendship.
Francis Bacon

There is a lot of mythology around the artist as a loner. As my friend novelist Tim Farrington ruefully phrases it, “The lonely genius stereotype, the semiautistic gifted person slaving passionately away in noble isolation.” Well put, Tim, and complete hooey. The artist’s life need not be isolated and lonely—we are just tutored to believe that it is. And such tutoring can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. An artist who needs help and support may be loath to ask for them. After all, aren’t “real” artists beyond such needs? In a word, no.

We’re fed a great deal of romance surrounding the lonely lot of the artist. We picture the garret from La Bohème, see the lone, starving artist, struggling with depression, struggling with sheer eccentricity. We are trained to see artists in this way. Over a recent weekend, teaching in San Francisco, I asked for a show of hands from all the people who believed an artist’s life would be lonely. In a room filled with two hundred people, nearly two hundred hands went up. Believing this, we can try to live it out—a prospect that makes for a great deal of pain. Who wants to try writing a novel if the act is going to cost us all our friends? And so novels go untried and artists go on blocked.

The truth is that creativity occurs in clusters. Consider Paris in the twenties and the cluster that built up around Gertrude Stein’s hospitality. Consider the Bloomsbury Group convening for Thursday night cocktails and inadvertently launching a movement. It can be argued that successful art is built on successful friendships. It can certainly be said that friends are what enable an artist to go the distance. . .

I figure if I have my health, can pay the rent and I have my friends, I call it “content.”
Lauren Bacall

Page 72

. . .Listening to our friendly viewers over a hyperactive inner critic is a learned skill. All too often, it is fear that prevents an artist from stepping onto center stage. The shy creator may be comfortable creating but uncomfortable with the resultant spotlight. Here, too, is where the championship of our friends is pivotal. As artists, we need to have those who can root for us as we gather ourselves to take some terrifying leap of artistic faith. We may call such a friend to say, “I am afraid to send off my article but I am going to go mail it now.” We may phone back to say, “I just mailed it.” In 12-step lingo, this is known as a “sandwich call.” Something difficult sandwiched in between our supports.

Belief is contagious and sometimes when we cannot believe in ourselves we can at least believe in the belief of others. “Maybe I’m not so bad,” we might think. “Maybe I should take another stab at it.” And then we do.

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