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Wow, do I ever have mixed feelings about this chapter. This is a hard one for me to approach, because I feel like there's a lot of good and bad mixed in together. Here's a summary of sorts (reprinted and adapted from [profile] alexconnal)

Luxury, says Cameron, is a thing we often deny ourselves because it is too expensive. Time to do art is a thing we often consider a luxury. Most of us think work should be work, not play, and if we want to do it, it is a frivolity.

Cameron says that we must have a little luxury to create art. It doesn't need to be much luxury—see Emma Goldman's quote up top—perhaps a twenty-dollar magazine subscription, or a couple-dollar basket of raspberries, or a wildflower in a cup on the table, free. Cameron describes people whose luxuries are new fun music, new watercolors; she might add that free time and space can be a luxury. One must be able to enjoy life, one must be able to enjoy art; one must do self-care.

Even if all the space we get for ourselves is a bookshelf and a windowsill, even if all the time we get for ourselves is fifteen minutes for morning pages and ten minutes to relax in the bathtub after work, we need the luxury of that space, we need the luxury of that time.

Cameron's exercise for the week is to track "every penny" of how and where you spend your money, and she suggests you keep it up for a month or more. The point is to observe yourself, not to judge yourself; to observe what you spend money on that you don't truly need or want and what you don't spend money on that you truly do.

We've talked before about how unexamined class privilege sometimes clouds Cameron's advice, and I feel like this is an example. This exercise is not going to make sense for everyone. If you don't have enough money to spend money on things you don't need or want, I don't know that it will do much good to remind yourself of it with extra bookkeeping. I am in this position currently, but I'll be trying the money-tracking exercise anyway this week to see how it pans out.

If having and spending money isn't a relevant issue for you, you might think of other resources that you have and spend – time, energy, emotion – that it might be worthwhile to record without judgement.

Don't forget to go on a date with your artist sometime this week and do your morning pages every day!
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[Note: Due to my current, hopefully temporary state of swampedness-by-work, this week's Weekly Post is reprinted from [profile] alexconnal's original, with minor changes]

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. —Henry David Thoreau

Cameron has several topics this week:

Anger is a powerful motivator, if we let it be a motivator instead of denying we feel it or burying it as deep as we can manage. For example: angry at a filmmaker for making a poorer film than one could do oneself? Time to learn how to make films. "Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy," says Cameron. "Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interests." She continues, "Anger is not the action itself. It is action's invitation."

[. . .]

Shame is another weapon against us. People try to make us feel ashamed of ourselves for doing things that embarrass them. Often the making of art is among those things. A lot of criticism of art is meant to make us feel ashamed of poor art, or art that's poor in the critic's eye, but poor art is a necessity in order to get to good art and also the critic doesn't necessarily know what they're talking about. Especially if they're disparaging or dismissive or ridiculing or condemning, which are the things critics do to create shame in the person critiqued.

Of course, hardly any good art got that way without some helpful person showing the artist where to improve. Dealing with criticism is a necessity. The distinction between useful and useless criticism, however, is vital. Cameron has a list of rules for dealing with criticism of any sort:

1) Receive the criticism all the way through and get it over with.
2) Jot down notes to yourself on what concepts or phrases bother you.
3) Jot down notes on what concepts or phrases seem useful.
4) Do something very nurturing for yourself--read an old good review or recall a compliment.
5) Remember that even if you have made a truly rotten piece of art, it may be a necessary stepping-stone to your next work. Art matures spasmodically and requires ugly-duckling growth stages.
6) Look at the criticism again. Does it remind you of any criticism from your past--particularly shaming childhood criticism? Acknowledge to yourself that the current criticism is triggering grief over a long-standing wound.
7) Write a letter to the critic--not to be mailed, most probably. Defend your work and acknowledge what was helpful, if anything, in the criticism proffered.
8) Get back on the horse. Make an immediate commitment to do something creative.
9) Do it. Creativity is the only cure for criticism.


"Growth is an erratic forward movement," Cameron says: "two steps forward, one step back." A week will go really well; a week will go really poorly. Don't get discouraged. This is normal. The morning pages will seem a waste of time. They're not, but seeing them as such is also normal. Cameron suggests, as well as keeping up with the morning pages and artist's dates, being kind to yourself in small ways. Eat better; buy a house plant; take five to meditate or stretch or just be; take a moment, several times a day, to ask yourself how you're feeling, and listen to your answer, and respond kindly.

Don't forget to go on a date with your artist sometime this week, and do your morning pages every day!
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