[Notice to Readers: Unintentional as it was, this post could also be called “PASIC Conference, Part II” to Deb’s post yesterday. However, if you keep reading, you will understand why it ties into The Artist’s Way.]
I just returned from my first Published Authors Special Interest Chapter (PASIC), held every two years in New York City. Wow-oh-wow, what an experience. I’ll never miss another one! My roomie Debra Mullins was a long-time New Jersey RWA member before moving to OC in 2007. She couldn’t believe I hadn’t been to PASIC, and insisted I join her. I’m so glad I did. Everyone seems to know Deb from her stints as conference coordinator for NJRW, which means editors and agents are always stopping to say hello.
Our other roommate was OCC’s January speaker, Susan Meier, who had flown in from western Pennsylvania for her first-time PASIC, too. So we were the newbies, and Deb was more than happy to introduce us around. (Oh, and an added perk — Deb knows the best places for Italian, NY Pizza, barbecue, and Irish food! )
Former OCC member Faye Hughes and an OCC guest speaker last year, Christie Craig were the conference coordinators, and did a fantastic job. You have got to read Christie’s take on New York City…it’s too funny…. “A Southern Gal Goes To New York.“
What does all of this have to do with The Artist’s Way, you might ask? Because, throughout the conference, I found myself thinking of this book, and the workshop that I attended a few months ago. I have been a published author for 20 years now, and it is easy to fall into the “What ifs” and “If Onlys” when there are long dry spells. I have been to many conferences where there is a sense of despair in the air around me because I was in a bad place, a place where I doubted my talent, my commitment . . . my “calling”.
But I had to take my own path that did not include publishing year after year. And it’s okay! Everyone is different. For me, I have known for a very long time that my life is about overcoming the demons (not literally) and following a deep need to explore and understand my spiritual Self. I realize this is not everyone’s “thing” so I don’t talk about it. But the Artist’s Way does. Author Julia Cameron writes about the yearning to fulfill a sense of obligation to the Great Creator to be creative ourselves. A divine directive, as it were. If this creativity doesn’t come out in one way, it comes out in another. And if it is stifled, we suffer from depression that can lead to physical health problems.
Julia writes on page 64: “Life is what we make of it. Whether we conceive of an inner god force or an other, outer God, doesn’t matter. Relying on that force does.”
She talks of how we discount answered prayers, calling them coincidences or just plain luck. “We call it anything but what it is — the hand of God, or good, activated by our own hand when we act in behalf of our truest dreams, when we commit to our own soul.”
And when we pursue that dream, amazing things begin to happen. Synchronicity. Serendipity. That’s what has been happening to me in these past several months. Despite family emergencies that pull me away from writing, I have been kept on my path with the help of friends like Deb, and now Susan. I made new friends at PASIC. I’m renewed. Fired up. And in love with this career again.
One last thing before I close…. At PASIC I finally met a new author whose unpubbed entry I had judged a few years ago. I absolutely LOVED this story, and I am delighted that she sold it. It’s an historical YA with a twist of magic called THE BEWITCHING SEASON by Marissa Doyle. The sequel will be out this Fall.
Until next month….
– Gillian Doyle
“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first BE who your really are, then DO what you need to do, in order HAVE what you want.“
– Margaret Young (quoted in THE ARTIST’S WAY)
We’re 29 days into 2009. How’s it going so far? Are you meeting your goal to write more pages? More hours? No? Life still getting in the way? I certainly understand. Jobs, family, friends, pets, laundry… the list of obligations seems endless. Some of us find time to write no matter what. Some even find writing as an escape from the stress of it all. Others say that they can’t NOT write any more than they can’t NOT breathe.
Then there’s the rest of us. We want to write. We talk about it. We have good intentions. But it drops down the to-do list as the day wears on and we wear out.
I don’t believe that there is any one single reason why we stumble in our efforts to write. As Creatives, we have highly active imaginations that are a blessing –great story ideas!– and a curse — filling our mind with self-doubt and What Ifs . . .What if I don’t have any talent? What if I spend all these months on this novel and no one buys it?
Julia Cameron is probably one of the most well-known authors offering a number of books to help artists and writers break through the various blocks that we encounter. Through the years, I have read and/or met so many wonderful and generous like-minded authors who understand our own fickleness and offer advice on their own websites, publications and seminars.
Susan Meier is one such author. She has been an instructor for OCC’s online class and is also our afternoon speaker at our February OCC/RWA meeting. Check out TheMotivatedWriter.com where she is a contributor, and her own blog called “Life Coach” at http://www.susanmeier.com/blog.html.
Doyou know websites or books that you have found helpful? If so, feel free to post them. We all know that writing is ultimately a solitary pursuit. But many of us can use a little nudge of encouragement now and then, a little tidbit of advice to get us back into that abandoned page.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, a new Artist’s Way workshop is starting on February 9th at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in West Hollywood. For details, go to CreativeLife.com.
AW is a very easy read, in a way. In another way, it is a challenge to the reader to make a serious commitment to creative recovery, a commitment that involves carving out time to read a chapter each week and to spend at least an hour every week on a “date” with yourself and no one else, going somewhere such as a park or museum or anything that is simply a pleasure to do.
Most people who have heard of AW usually know of the daily commitment to writing three pages of free-flowing thoughts called the “Morning Pages.” Many balk at the assignment. Often they do not understand the purpose. To do it is to understand. No one can teach or explain the change that will occur to the writer. Only the writer will “get it” after doing it. This may take three weeks or three months before realizing the benefits of daily Morning Pages.
Trust that the MP will work wonders. Leave the doubts at the door. Set the alarm 30 minutes early. Have a spiral notebook and pen ready and waiting. Then release all the mind-chatter onto the page. Unload the swirling miasma of thoughts, some good, some bad. Don’t judge them. Just write them.
The dumping of any negativity is meant to unburden you. However, if you feel as if it causes you to focus more on the difficulties and challenges in your life without working through answers or at least feeling more peaceful, try another ending. In the final 5-10 minutes, write down things that you are grateful for. Write positive statements to affirm your goals and aspirations.
After three pages, put down the pen and go on with your day, knowing any worries you put on the paper no longer need to be repeated in your head throughout the day. Consider it freeing up the hard drive in your brain so there is more room to fill with thoughts of your book or whatever creative project you have in mind.
Happy New Year!
James Patterson gave this cover quote for THE RABBIT FACTORY, “Marshall Karp could well be the Carl Hiaasen of Los Angeles — only I think he’s even funnier. THE RABBIT FACTORY will touch your funny bone, and your heart.”
Thanks once again to my friend and bookseller Michelle Thorne (“Bearly Used Books” in La Puente, CA), I found another terrific author. Michelle had given the hardcover to my dh as a gift last year. He loved it, but because it was HIS book and not mine, it ended up in his stash of books instead of my office shelves. He brought it to my attention after I finished another Hiaasen recently.
THE RABBIT FACTORY is centered around murders connected to an L.A. based entertainment mega-conglomerate a la Disney.
There are many reasons why I was drawn into this first novel by Karp–
First, James Patterson’s cover quote comparison to Hiaasen was a like a double endorsement! (Patterson’s WHEN THE WIND BLOWS is my favorite of his books!)
Second, I’ve been a fan of amusement parks since my first visit to Disneyland as a kid living in San Diego. Nowadays, not only can I hear the nightly fireworks from my bedroom window but I hold an annual pass so I can get my fix on a regular basis.
Third, LAPD detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs. But it’s Lomax who gets to have center stage with chapters in his own first-person voice. (Another new trend I like: mixing first and third person.)
Mike Biggs has lost his wife to cancer only six months earlier, but the author handles this situation with just the right balance between grief and poignant memories. At the same time, Mike’s dad — Big Jim — is trying to help Mike move forward and into a new relationship, something Mike is loathe to do.
I know I’m reading a murder mystery. Anything could happen. Especially to the poor protagonist who may or may not fall in love with the wrong person. Or falls for the right one who gets blown up in the end. I hate when that happens.
I want happy endings. I think everyone does, despite the cynical sneer of too many people who turn their noses up at the romance genre. (I KNOW these literary elitists have not read a Meryl Sawyer or Karen Robards or they wouldn’t act that way!)
Without giving anything away (so you will buy this book!), I will say that Marshall Karp gave me every reason to keep coming back for more.
If you are in the Los Angeles area on May 15, Marshall will be doing a drive-by signing at noon at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood while he’s in town to research his next Lomax and Biggs novel.
by Gillian Doyle
LESSONS FROM A LIFETIME OF WRITING:
A Novelist Looks At His Craft
As writers, we have all heard it said that we “write what we know” but David really brought it home to me that we consciously — and often unconsciously — write about our deepest fears, weaving them into our characters, good and bad.
On page 21 of his book– “. . . I’ve trained myself to pay attention to my daydreams/nightmares, to be aware of them as they’re happening, to wonder why certain imaginary situations are so insistent, and to use the most compelling of them as the inspiration of my novels. After the fact, I’ve learned to realize how the plots that attract me are metaphors for my psyche.”
My books have always come to me in the most vivid dreams unlike my other “normal” dreams. A time-travel romance was born of a dream I had experienced while sleeping aboard a replica of an 1830s hide-trading ship on the coast of California. Another book began after a dream of an 1890s boarding house where the little boy sitting next to me had dropped green peas on the red oriental carpet under his chair. Such details startle me in my dreams, and haunt my waking hours with an eerie feeling of having actually been there, physically, in the past.
What relief to read of someone else who experiences this “multisensory illusion”. I have written all of my stories based upon these peculiar guideposts. This is the reason why I have had such a hard time keeping on track with my writing career. I write what I must write. I write what pulls me into the story as if I am a child at the feet of a storyteller, mesmerized, enthralled. When I am asked by well-meaning writer-friends, “Why can’t you write for the market? If only you’d pay attention to what sells, you’d be a huge success.” But I don’t. I can’t. And for this reason, I have often gone months without writing, choosing instead to find my fulfillment in other ways. How sad, though. I could not seem to allow myself to finish books just for myself, even if they would never find a publisher.
And so I returned to writing once more. I write of daydreams and nightmares. I write what I need to write. If there is an editor out there who finds it compelling and wishes to publish it, I would be delighted but it will not make my life any better than it is right now at this moment. For I have been reminded by David that it is the writing itself that is the reward. (Read Lesson Number One and you will know what I mean.)
After reading LIFETIME, I was thrilled to meet David when he was our guest speaker last year. What a memorable day! After reading last year’s thriller, CREEPERS, I became an even bigger fan! I can’t wait to read his latest, SCAVENGER. (Click on the titles to go to video interviews with David about these novels.)
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