Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where to Begin? Here and Now.

I have recently neglected my blogs, but I know that the practice of writing needs to be just that: practiced. So here I am, and there are also the Morning I can hear Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) saying,
"...But I've gone ahead of my story. He'd have hated that. Denys loved to hear a story told well..." (Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa)*
So let's go back (briefly) to May-June
The workshop which I created for Field's End Writers' Community on Bainbridge Island (delivered in May and June) went well. WORD SOUP© lasted for four weeks, and at the end, the comment forms (and letters) I received from participants were exciting and encouraging. They wished it had lasted longer; they want me to offer it again.

I heard from several participants whose felt their writing improved, expanded and/or "unblocked" as a result of our sessions. That is joyful news indeed, especially considering it was a brand-new workshop. They formed a well-balanced group, and intend to continue as a writing group in the autumn.

If you know of a group which would benefit from WORD SOUP©, please leave a comment and we will explore the possibilities together!

Now, to the present and those Morning Pages: during my week at Rancho La Puerta, I met many interesting people. One of those was Shelby, a long-distance runner and an accomplished, lovely woman. We found that we have mutual acquaintances, and live close enough to visit each other. Shelby rode the ferry over a couple of weeks ago, and we took a long walk, catching up on the latest news in each other's lives.

Shelby recently completed a 50-mile run, and no, that is not a typographical error; FIFTY miles, in one day. So here is respect for her strength, determination, training and persistence!...and she reminded me of a book which I have had for years, called "The Artist's Way."

The Artist's Way was developed by Julia Cameron (it's worth an online search, if you don't know about her). Ms. Cameron is a creative, prolific, successful artist herself, and has helped to free many thousands of other artists through her work. I started her book - which requires a commitment of 12 weeks - twice in the past, but never finished it. After Shelby brought it up, I went home and pulled out my copy.

From what I found written inside, I began the study in the year 2002; I've no idea why I didn't finish it then. The second time I started it was on June 9, 2006.
June 9, 2006. Four months before Katie was diagnosed with cancer.

I don't know what stopped me from finishing it in 2006, either, but remembering that I started it again at that time was - for some reason - a shock to my system. It told me something about my state of mind, right before "the end of the world as we know it."
My family in June 2006
So, I have recommitted to study, practice, and complete it this time. I am writing the Morning Pages each day, reading the weekly chapters and doing the exercises. This time, I am ready, and - of course - it means something different now, because I am different; my life is different and my needs as an artist are different. The timing is perfect.

It struck me that the work I have done in creating WORD SOUP© is somehow connected to "The Artist's Way." The purpose of WORD SOUP© is to bring freedom, joy and inspiration to people who want to begin to write, and to those who once wrote, but have stopped (for whatever reason). It is easy and fun for me to facilitate WORD SOUP© for others, but I also need to practice artistic recovery for myself - for the painter who no longer paints, as well as for the writer who loves to write. "The Artist's Way" will promote that practice for me.

I am absorbing the wisdom, insight and healing offered in the book. Ms. Cameron knows exactly what she is writing about. There are topics covered which bring exactly the medicine I need in different areas of my creative life (including the DVD project). There is an entire section on "Crazymakers," which was tremendously helpful, reminding me that such difficulties occur in many creative endeavors and environments.

I am thankful to God for leading my mom and me to Rancho La Puerta, which led to meeting Shelby, who led to my renewed commitment to "The Artist's Way." Write on!

*I've been reading books about the "Happy Valley Set," a group of European expatriates who settled in what was then British East Africa (now Kenya) in the early-to-mid-20th century. There was a murder, never officially solved, which took place there, and I wanted to know about it. I found a copy of the (out-of-print) book, "White Mischief" by Edward Fox, which led to other biographies ("The Bolter," "Too Close to the Sun" and "The Temptress," which led to re-viewing "Out of Africa." All in all, not an inspiring group of people, but an interesting place and time in history.


  1. Isn't it funny how the people we meet and click with are connected to us in various ways? Love that Shelby has set you back on your course. :) Glad your word soup went well too!!! All the best my friend.

  2. I have Julia's book too - and have started and stopped twice! Perhaps I need to give it another try. How nice it would be to live closer to your class - it sounds like it was fantastic!

    1. Thank you, Kim - I would have loved to share WORD SOUP© with you! And I would recommend taking another look at The Artist's Way if you have started and stopped it. I think it's more challenging with kids at home, particularly in the summer time, but perhaps during the school year there would be more time for reflection? If you do take it up again, I'd love to hear what you think this time.

  3. Rancho La Puerta seems to have been a source of much growth and change in your life. Amazing how that happens, huh? Almost like God led you there...
    I was also glad to get a report on Word Soup. Knowing you, I assumed it went well, but enjoyed reading some of the details today. What a gift you gave. You are almost inspiring me to start blogging again. Haha.
    Love you.

    1. Karen, I love reading your words online, so here is my vote that you blog are deeply creative and talented in so many ways that it is always a pleasure to read your thoughts and see your photos. Love you!

  4. I remember doing the morning pages more than twenty years ago, when I lived in a house in the woods in New York. That seems like another lifetime. I can't imagine what a gift you've given the people in your Word Soup class, Karen -- your life and your writing are an inspiration. I know that you make a difference.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, Elizabeth. I'd love to hear what you thought of the Artist's Way. Were you on your own, or in a group? Do you think it would be a good thing to delve into it again at this point, or did you get all that you needed from it then? Do you think it would be challenging to do it with kids at home? You write consistently, no matter how busy your life is, and I admire that. XO

  5. I admire your discipline and re-dedication. I'm trying to put in place a writing practice with this new career -- I have so many new experiences that are worthy of writing. It calms me too. It is always nice to read you.