I have now officially made it farther through the program than I have on my previous two attempts, so that’s an achievement already!

Week 3 Theme: “Recovering a Sense of Power.”  This week deals with being open to opportunities and accepting gifts that come in the form of synchronicity.  By committing to our creative power, doors will open.  We need to walk through them.  We also need to avoid self-sabotage and the sometimes savage criticism of others – especially with our early work.  Cameron spends a lot of time discussing the difference between constructive and useless criticism.  We need to be very self-protective of our inner artists and avoid the second kind like the plague.  It made me thankful, again, for my very constructive critique partners!

Morning Pages: Yes! They now feel natural to me, although I must admit I was tempted to hit the snooze button this morning…

Artist Date:  After first seeing it with my cousin over the weekend, I went by myself for a second viewing of the movie Breaking Dawn.  Go ahead and laugh.  I’ll wait…

Finished?  Great.  Yes, I will admit I loved the Twilight series.  You laughing can’t possibly be more embarrassing than a 40 year-old woman showing up at the theater alone to watch a movie about hunky teenage vampires, believe me.  I think that’s the first time I’ve ever gone to a movie alone period.  At first it felt uncomfortable, but then I enjoyed it.  I never get to see movies otherwise, so I might start going more often now that I have the artist date as an excuse. 🙂

And yes, I am well aware of the debate surrounding the quality of the writing in the books.  True, it is not Pulitzer Prize winning prose.  Stephenie Meyer has taken that fact straight to the bank.  The movies have been pretty cheesy so far too.

But what Meyer (and now the movies) did do was create one of the greatest pieces of escapist fiction that’s come along in ages.  What girl doesn’t love an epic star-crossed love story where the hero is a sparkly Adonis with great hair and superpowers?  Were it not for the second half of Breaking Dawn – both the book and the movie – it would be a perfect fairy tale.  SPOILER ALERT: Because I’m here to tell you, I don’t care how much you love somebody, it’s no woman’s fantasy to get pregnant on her honeymoon and end up having her half-human/half-vampire baby break her bones in utero and then need to have said baby chewed out of the womb.  Ew.

In short, it was fun, and that’s at least part of what an Artist Date is supposed to be about right?

Any “Aha” Moments?  I felt inexplicably sad and anxious at various times during the week.  Cameron says that’s to be expected as you get “deeper” into your creative recovery.  I’m still not sure what is behind those feelings for me though.  I just lived with them rather than chasing them down.  I also suppose that was another reason why escaping into Breaking Dawn felt like a welcome break.

A few favorite quotes from the Week 3 chapter:

“I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something.  Say, instead, that you are doing it.  Then fasten your seat belt.  The most remarkable things follow.”

“As artists, we cannot control all the criticism will well receive… We can learn not to deny and stuff our feelings when we have been artistically savaged.”

“We must learn that when our art reveals a secret of the human soul, those watching it may try to shame us for making it.”

“Do it.  Creativity is the only cure for criticism.”

Criticism can indeed be harmful. I have one piece I wrote that got ripped to shreds in a public forum (although thankfully I wasn’t identified as the author).  That piece was very close to my heart, and I was shattered by the criticism.  This happened almost two years ago, and I have not shared that piece with one other person since then – or done anything else with it.  This week’s work is opening me to the idea that I’ve made it worse by accepting and believing the remarks rather than resolving to move forward.  Have you ever had such an experience?

Week 2 Check-In

Week 1 Check-In

The Artist’s Way

Categories: Creativity, Movies, The Artist's Way, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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27 Comments

  1. I have had such an experience, and I’m sorry to say it came from a high school English teacher whom I worshipped. It was the reason I didn’t have the nerve to pursue creative writing in college, why I kept my writing to myself for so long, and probably continues to contribute to my underlying suspicion that I can’t actually write. People, especially teachers, should never be so unkind. Constructive criticism tactfully stated and helpfully meant is not the same as ripping someone’s work to shreds!

    • What an awful story! I had a college poetry professor who nearly killed my love of both reading and writing poetry.

      Teachers are entrusted with the hearts of writers – they should treat them with care!

  2. Good for you for getting through Week 3!!! Love the quotes, especially the first one.

    I’ve had that kind of criticism in other areas of my life, and the wounds do go deep. Thankfully, I’ve not had that sort of reaction to my writing — yet. I’m sure, though, that the wounds inflicted in other areas have had a lot to do with my fear of becoming involved in any sort of critique group.

    • Beth – a kind, supportive, CONSTRUCTIVE critique group can do wonders for your writing, but it is important to find the right one. It took me a while, but now I love my CPs and trust that they have the best interest of my work at heart.

  3. I am totally not laughing! I’m older than that target Twilight audience, but I love a good, original story! Both the books and movies are loads of fun, which is all the justification I need to be a Twilighter. 🙂 Kudos to you for throwing convention to the wind! I gladly sit at each movie as the oldest person in the room who is not a parent. 😉

    – – –

    Criticism is tough to take, but I’ve learned to walk into it with the intention to learn. Once that decision is made, its easier to see my faults and move past them, rather than dwell on them and beat myself up.

  4. Am enjoying and reliving my journey through you. And, yes I am still laughing. Good for you!

    I don’t know, I have had constructive critiquing of my work — the shock was momentary, but then I realized it was very helpful. But, since I studied journalism and was a journalist, I became very use to the red pen. But, having your work criticized publicly is tough. Experience that a little at a SCBWI conference where we wrote letters to agents. We were put into groups of four. One author tore my letter a part and was very controlling in the group. Then I received the critique copy a top agent did of the same letter, and it was opposite of what the woman in my group had said. The agent’s comments were so much more constructive.

    Great post!
    Pat

    • Pat, it makes me wonder if sometimes the people who are the most toxic and obnoxious giving critiques are the ones who are also the most uncertain about their own work. Good for you for powering through and then getting good feedback from the agent!

  5. So glad that you are sharing this journey with us. I am thoroughly enjoying your weekly update. Twilight is in a pile of TBR books for me and haven’t seen the movies yet!

    i have been fortunate that so far the critique I have received though at times pretty hard, has, on reflection always had helpful elements in it. I would hate to go through what you had to on a public forum.

    • I suppose it was my own fault for putting it in the public forum in the first place! I did so because the two critique groups who’d seen it loved it, so I was sure the editors and agents would too. They just went too far in their criticism.

  6. Congratulations on getting thru week three, Julie. 🙂

    I once heard Susan Elizabeth Philiips say, “Protect the work.” It took me years to understand that she was talking about that sense of power and how easily other can destroy it … but only if we let them. I used to share my work before it was ready to be shared and negative comments (even when they were valid) used to kill my writing. Over the years, I’ve developed the ability to trust myself as a storyteller. I hold on to my work until I’m ready to receive good and bad comments, and when I do receive them, I select the ones that feel right to me and discard the rest.

    Your artist date sounds wonderful. Again, congratulations on achieving week 3!

    • Julia Cameron takes that one step further and says artists often share their work prematurely on purpose as a form of self-sabotage. I believe that, and I believe it is an important part of recovery to get over it – like you do.

  7. Oh I can relate to this one. But first congrats Julie on getting through week 3.

    I being a newbie didn’t know that you don’t send in a first draft to an editor. Well I got smeared. Nightmare!

    It took a while, but I did lick my wounds and went on, but it was ruff. I am now hard at it and I hope to have this WIP done soon. It did take some time for recovery. There is light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂

    • I think we all make newbie mistakes – I know I did! The ones who ultimately succeed are the ones who don’t quit afterward but learn from them.

  8. Congrats on getting through week 3! Take that in. Celebrate a little.

    I think we’ve all had bad experiences with critiques. For a long time I gave in/gave up when I got painful critiques. Slowly I realized that I was letting my left brain tell me to give up, that I was a no talent wanna be. The way I learned to beat this is by using a line from Star Wars – it’s the Dark Side, (Luke). Naming it helps.

  9. I got a tear in my eye reading your post. It brings me back to my first read of THE ARTIST’S WAY (which was followed by umpteen hundred more… ;)).

    LOVE this quote: “Do it. Creativity is the only cure for criticism.”

    • Have you found it’s changed your life? I’m always curious what people’s experience has been when they’ve “made it to the other side.”

  10. Congratulations Julie! I have not put my work in a public forum outside of my blog (that doesn’t count) yet, but I got destroyed by my first college professor and that is why I was convinced I couldn’t write and took so long to step forward out of the shadows (13 years). I hope I am building up a thick skin for when those critiques start coming in.

  11. Julie,

    Appreciate that you share your “The Artist Way” journey with us. I find it helpful and encouraging for my flight takes off in 2012.
    (Shhh! I know the book has been plucked from my Christmas Wish list already. YAY! :~>)

    ********
    “Julia Cameron takes that one step further and says artists often share their work prematurely on purpose as a form of self-sabotage.”

    ~Mine was due to deadline of an intensive group and real-life balancing issues this year. I knew what I was putting on the table wasn’t my best, but rotation called and I had committed myself. Resigning from the group was most difficult. I’m back to my creative self. Even picking up my mixed media art once again 😀
    (BTW: The group I left was the best ever and I miss them deeply! But the right decisions aren’t always the easiest.)

    Huge Twilight fan!!!

  12. J.
    Remembering work being criticized from college days, I think so much of criticism can be either taste driven (six of one or a half dozen of the other) or
    character driven (people whose interactive style is argumentative or people who are nit-picky, etc). Aside from these, criticism is either valid or it’s not. If not valid, ignore it. You’ll find readers/markets who agree with you no matter what you write! If the criticism is true, improve your piece until it works for YOU.
    I enjoy reading your column!
    R.

    P.S. My wife and I are both Twilight fans!

    • Russ, you are so right about criticism. You seem very well-adjusted to the notion that writers need to be able to take it and then determine whether or how to use it. I’m still getting there. 🙂

  13. Good for you for going to a movie by yourself for an artist’s date. I’m not very good at coming up with artist dates, but I’ve considered doing that exact thing. Not Twilight, though. I may go see the Muppets; my wife has never really cared for them and my kids claim they’re too old for them, but I’ve never grown too old to love them!

  14. Have just discovered your website Julie. It seems that many of us are so influenced by our school teachers, however long ago their comments were made.
    I’m 65 years old and have so enjoyed going to see the Harry Potter movies on my own so I can empathise.

    Regards,

    Tricia

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