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To be an artist is to acknowledge the astonishing. It is to allow the wrong piece in a room if we like it. It is to hang on to a weird coat that makes us happy. It is to not keep trying to be something that we aren't.

If you are happier writing than not writing, painting than not painting, singing than not singing, acting than not acting, directing than not directing, for God's sake (and I mean that literally) let yourself do it.

To kill your dreams because they are irresponsible is to be irresponsible to yourself )

Building your Artist's Altar )

Some exercises for Week 11:

Write out in longhand, your Artist's Prayer from Week Four. Place it in your wallet.
(p. 190)

[R]eexamine your God concept. Does your belief system limit or support your creative expansion? Are you open minded about altering your concept of God?
(p. 191)
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Ok, so. I know I said I would keep my grubby atheist mitts off the Spiritual Path posts, but I'm going back on my promise for just a minute because I want to be clear about one thing. This chapter is chock-full of quotations from and allusions to a very sketchy genre of writing in which money naturally flows toward people who have the "right" spiritual and emotional alignments, and "money will come when you are doing the right thing." These quotes aren't particularly central to the chapter, but they're all over it and I really wish they weren't.

This is not the way our economy works and it is irresponsible to pretend that it is.

If you're poor or broke right now, it is not because you didn't place enough trust in the benevolence of the universe, because you failed to visualize your dreams, or because you blocked the natural flow of monetary energy with your negative commie thoughts. At the very least, there are other factors at work.

This is not a blanket diss on positive thinking as a practice. Clarifying your goals to yourself CAN help you achieve them. Working through your attitudes toward money CAN help you get more of it (for example, if you have blocks about saving money or asking for a raise). Doing what you love instead of what you think you ought to do CAN have financial payoffs, sometimes more quickly than you expect (and sometimes not). Anything that clears your head and decreases stress can have positive effects that are wide-ranging and deep, and might include being better able to make and manage money.

But the idea that "money is God in action" or "a golden flowing stream of concretized vital energy" (both quoted passages appearing in the margins of this chapter) is neither true nor kind, and I can't sign on for it, even by passively not including it here. Money is just money. Economic systems are not karmic systems. I am going to chalk this one up to "Julia Cameron's unexamined class privilege" and move on.

A couple of better ideas below:

This week, in your morning pages, write about the god you do believe in and the god you would like to believe in. For some of us, this means, "What if God's a woman and she's on my side?" For others, it is a god of energy. For still others, a collective of higher forces moving us toward our higher good. If you are still dealing with a god consciousness that has remained unexamined since childhood, you are probably dealing with a toxic god. What would a nontoxic god think of your creative goals? Might such a god really exist? [. . .]

Many of us equate difficulty with virtue )

In addition to the morning pages direction above, for this week's tasks, Cameron encourages us to look out for "[a]ny new flow in your life" and to "[p]ractice saying yes to freebies" (114) She also suggests that we

Reread the Basic Principles (See page 3.) Do this once daily. Read an Artist's Prayer-- yours from Week Four or mine on pages 207-208. Do this once daily.
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One of the chief barriers to accepting God's generosity is our limited notion of what we are in fact able to accomplish.

Scarcity Thinking )

The Virtue Trap )

If you have trouble believing in a supportive God, try this exercise:
“The reason I can't really believe in a supportive God is. . . “ List five grievances. (God can take it)

(p. 103)
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Cameron, p. 85-86:

[A]s you look over the time you have been doing your morning writing, you will see that many changes have entered your life as a result of your willingness to clear room in it for your creator's action. You will have noticed an increased, sometimes disconcerting, sense of personal energy, some bursts of anger, some flash points of clarity. People and objects may have taken on a different meaning to you. There will be a sense of the flow of life-- that you are brought into new vistas as you surrender to moving with the flow of God. This is clear already.

Bafflement and Faith )

As a daily task for this week, Cameron suggests that you "Write your own Artist's Prayer (See pages 207-208.) Use it every day for a week." (p. 90)

An interesting thing about my edition of The Artist's Way (2002 Tenth Anniversary Edition) is that some of the internal page number references apparently haven't been updated for the new edition, so while Cameron refers to her own Artist's Prayer on p. 207-208, the Artist's Prayer is actually on p. 223 in this edition. Page number references to earlier in the book are correct, but references to the Appendix are wrong.

Whoever was in charge of proofreading at Tarcher/Putnam appears to have been sleeping on the job in general; the edition is attractively designed but the typo rate is really high -- not as bad as the worst examples I've encountered, but noticeably worse than average.

Anyway, here's Cameron's Artist's Prayer for your reference:

An Artist's Prayer )
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Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way, p. 62-64:

Answered prayers are scary. They imply responsibility. You asked for it. Now that you've got it, what are you going to do? Why else the cautionary phrase “Watch out for what you pray for; you just might get it”? Answered prayers deliver us back to our own hand. This is not comfortable. We find it easier to accept them as examples of synchronicity:

Some examples follow )
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Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way, p. 50-51

One of the things most worth noting in a creative recovery is our reluctance to take seriously the possibility that the universe just might be cooperating with our new and expanded plans. We've gotten brave enough to try recovery, but we don't want the universe to really pay attention. We still feel too much like frauds to handle some success. When it comes, we want to go.

Of course we do! )
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Here are some passages from Julia Cameron's introduction to The Artist's Way dealing with the idea of creativity as a spiritual path. You can find a brief explanation of the Spiritual Path posts here.

I've been using the blockquote format to indicate long quoted passages, but I'm happy to re-format if anyone finds them difficult to read -- just let me know!

Cameron occasionally uses ellipses as punctuation; when the ellipses are mine and indicate a cut, I'll put them in brackets: [. . .]

From the Introduction:
Names and Practices )

From "Spiritual Electricity: The Basic Principles"
The Vast Electrical Sea )

Creativity Basic Principles )

Cameron suggests returning to these affirmations daily. Use what works, and ignore what doesn't. If one or more of these statements resonates with or challenges you, try writing it down and posting it somewhere where you'll see it regularly.
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This is the second part of a two-part introduction to the [community profile] artistsway community. The first part is here.

Julia Cameron and I are not the same person. While The Artist's Way is full of great ideas, I have a couple of major and a lot of very minor disagreements with what I've found so far, and a few more may pop up before the workshop ends. Most of them won't ever come up, but this one is kind of pervasive, so I'm putting it right up front.

I'm an atheist and a materialist. Julia Cameron, at least in her Artist's Way persona, is not.

Spirituality is an integral part of Cameron's project as she sees it -- the subtitle of the book is "A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity." Throughout, she'll be talking in terms of God / the Great Creator, and encouraging us to cultivate a relationship with this entity. She'll also assure us that we don't need to believe in divine beings to take part in the workshop, and suggests that people who are uncomfortable with her use of the word "God" should simply mentally substitute "good orderly direction" or "flow."

I'm not going to be doing that. The exercises in this book have been an enormous help to me in the past. If I thought I had to understand them in spiritual terms, however cloaked and muffled, I doubt I would have made it to Week 2 the first time around.

But what is inhibiting to one person might be liberating to another. I don't want to discard Cameron's creator-language by fiat just because it doesn't work for me -- I'd like to make sure that all of Cameron's tools are on the table, to be picked up by whoever finds them useful.

So I'll be adding weekly posts that quote Cameron directly on all things spiritual and Creatorly. These will be complete, verbatim passages, free of grumpy atheist asides or the uncharitable misinterpretations that paraphrase is heir to, and they'll be tagged with their own tag so they'll be easy to seek out or avoid. I hope that works. The first Spiritual Path post will go up later this evening and will quote from the introduction to The Artist's Way


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Twelve-week creativity workshop!

August 2014

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