When Noelle first told me about her podcast project in early 2020, I thought it was interesting, and I was impressed that I personally knew someone who was about to start her own podcast. As far as the creative angle? I couldn’t imagine how that applied to me. Noelle described her goal as providing a way to foster creativity for artists of all genres. When she elaborated a bit on Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, I decided to buy the book and give it a shot – what was the harm? I’m not a creative person, I told myself, but I love Noelle and I love podcasts; it could be fun.
Famous. Last. Words.
Julia Cameron would have loved that conversation between Noelle and me. Julia would’ve called it “serendipitous”…and she would have been correct. My personal journey through The Artist’s Way has been very slow. (2020 has been a YEAR for everyone, am I right?) Each chapter is meant to be a focus for one week; theoretically, one then completes the twelve chapters in twelve weeks’ time. It took me until Coffee and Creatives was almost finished with The Artist’s Way before I had even begun. I needed to listen for a while, first. I needed to convince myself that this was worth doing. After a few months of listening, I finally dove in…
I grew up thinking that “artistic” or “creative” people were those who could paint, draw, make things with clay, take amazing photographs, dance, act, sing; all of the modes in which you can see pictures, feel textures, listen to beautiful sound, watch bodies take on a persona not their own. It is all mesmerizing. And yet, I never considered writing to be an art form. Writing was always technical or practical in my mind. It served a specific purpose. This is an odd way of thinking, given that I was a voracious reader in my young years, but it never occurred to me that writers were creating art. Naturally then, that line of thinking continued with me as I grew.
In school, writing can quickly become something that may once have been fun, but was now a chore. First it was the grueling monotony of basic handwriting, then writing sentences, paragraphs, short essays, long essays, responses to other learning material, research papers. I did have creative writing assignments in school, but again, I “wasn’t creative,” so I didn’t see it as such. It felt forced for me; but, I dearly loved to write, even when it was hard and boring. I was a journal addict as a preteen and teenager. I bought any journal that was pretty and filled them all. I frequently would pretend I was a Jane Austen era heroine and write in letter form to someone tall, dark, and handsome, or to some far off friend that I missed. Writing felt like a breath of fresh air in those moments. But art? No, that wasn’t for me.
In college, I had to do a LOT of technical writing for my major. Lots of data collection and analysis, expository writing on diagnoses and theories of patient prognoses. Immense amounts of essay questions on tests and research papers throughout. After college, my writing brain (and much of my reading brain) was completely burned out. Fast-forward twelve years and my conversation with Noelle felt like a weird dream. Am I creative? Could I be? Nah…
And yet, I began to read The Artist’s Way. I listened to Noelle, Beccah, Anna, and later Christina every week. I dabbled in writing again. I’ve written my daily morning pages. I’ve done every single exercise (except for one – a weekend-long artist date – thanks, COVID) that Julia Cameron has yet to set before me in her artist’s bible. I am now positive that I am a creative being, that writing has worth in the world of the arts, and that it is my chief medium for sharing in a creative way. This realization became an expectation that came to fruition as I continued slowly through the book. What I did not expect, however, was how much going through The Artist’s Way was going to be like going to therapy. Phew! I have been challenged and enlightened in many areas, aside from my creativity – and yet, they all interrelate in the end. You’re on to something, JC.
Listening to Coffee and Creatives has relit the fire for journaling and creative writing that burned long ago in my childhood and adolescence. I am duly thankful to these women for creating this audible work of art that graces my ears every week. In addition to the topical inspiration, Coffee and Creatives has afforded me an unexpected blessing in this doozy of a year: soul-mending companionship in a way I never expected to receive it. Every episode I feel like I’m in the room (or the Zoom?) with Noelle, Beccah, Anna, and Christina – their friendship chemistry is perfectly matched and makes listening to their wise and wonderful insights so very welcoming. My husband is in the military, and in addition to living through this awful pandemic, we had to move to a new state this year. Moving during a pandemic is incredibly lonely, and yet, I have looked forward to every episode of Coffee and Creatives as it never fails to comfort, inspire, challenge, and encourage, despite these crazy times.
Thank you, ladies, for this incredible gift. In week four of The Artist’s Way, JC asks us to write an artist’s prayer. This immediately came to me and, simple as it is, sticks with me as I continue on this journey:
Make it so in me