Have you read The Artist's Way? I'll just assume you have because you are reading this blog and you are probably a writer of blogs, ergo--you fancy yourself an artist but have yet to find a more legitimate genre than blogs which prompts you to read books about being a more brilliant and prolific artiste. It's cool my baby, I'm right there with you.
I am only in the first chapter of this book and it is great fun. I like it. In this chapter I am recovering a sense of safety so please be mindful of that in your comments. I've been stuck in the first chapter for a while because I am trying to do all the exercises before I move on. Here are some of the exercises. You should do them too.
The first thing you need to do is list enemies of your creative self. The first enemy of my creative self is Michael Rutter. He was the so-called creative writing teacher in high school. I wanted to transfer into creative writing mid-semester--probably to get out of psychology because that teacher told my mom he thought I was slimy like a devil worshiper. (I do NOT worship the devil by the way. I'm so sure!) So Mr. Rutter takes me into his "office" and gives me two poems. He instructs me to write an essay about which poem I like better. I did. Then he told me I got it wrong. It was totally embarrassing and he wouldn't let me into the class. I was especially mad the next year when I saw the same exercise in the teacher's edition of Laurence Perrine's Structure, Sound and Sense, our textbook for AP English.
Even though I count him as an enemy to my creative self, Michael Rutter did me a favor. I think I probably wouldn't be any good at creative writing. And anyway, who's laughing now?
The other enemy to my creative self is a professor named John Murphy. He taught a Flannery O'Connor class I took as a graduate student. What is most painful about this episode is that I like Flannery O'Connor and I really tried in that class. So when he wrote in his ugly, harsh, red pen on my final paper, "Have you ever written a paper before?" It was not encouraging. Keep in mind, I was teaching college writing at the time. So when I talk about teaching writing and I sometimes joke that I'm just a fraud and I don't know what I'm doing and you chuckle at my self-deprecating nature, you should know that it's not self-deprecating-- it's true. John Murphy, you may be right--but you're still pretty mean.
Well, that's enough of that. The fun part of chapter one is listing 5 imaginary jobs that you would like to have. I immediately thought of ballet dancer. I took ballet in college. I always brush it off as just some meaningless P.E. credit, but I think if you really examine your P.E. credits you'll find some pretty serious wishful thinking, if we're all being honest. Think about it.
#2 is Rock star. I could never be a movie star--I wouldn't even want to. But I would like to be a rock star. Why? Because rock stars are cool.
#3 is Book store owner. I have thought about this seriously. I wanted to name my book store Bleak House after the Charles Dickens novel. Later (after the Internet revolution) I thought Brick and Mortar Books would be a good name. But Christian would rather invest in strangers on the Internet than in my store so that dream was squelched. Truth be told, this already exists and I don't own it so what's the point?
#4 is working for NPR, preferably as Doug Fabrizio's lackey.
And #5 is professor. Yes, yes--I may call myself [and insist that others call me] a professor but I'm not really a professor. And in my imaginary Artist's Way world I would be a real professor--perhaps of math or science, or even Literature--I might even specialize in American women writers and I might even have taken the position at BYU offered to one John Murphy and then he would be publishing his own little blog right now instead of me. And I would take students who wanted to add my class into my "office" and make them answer the question, "Flannery O'Connor, greatest American writer or the greatest American writer," and they would invariably get the answer wrong.