Some to share and some to take me places.


We had our second writing event at Wholeshot Coffee over the weekend. This monthly event was dreamed up by Alex, an exuberant woman I met via another artist friend. A love for writing is something we have in common, and as I was looking for leaders who would be willing to lead creative connection points out of Wholeshot to inspire others to embrace their creativity, she showed up and volunteered to start Writing Minds Align.

I came in about halfway through their time together this past Sunday, but quickly learned that they had started their time together doing two, ten minute writing prompts:

  • A long time away...
  • Who am I?

I wrote them down with the intention of trying them at a later time.

After the event ended I was talking to the girlfriend of the barista who was working, her name is also Mandy, and asked if she liked writing and if the writing group would interest her.

She said she did liked to write, but wouldn't want to share what she wrote with the group.

On Monday of this week, arriving early to pick up my daughter and her friends from Marching Band Camp, I took the 20 minutes to do the two writing prompts. I wrote in my art journal on some concentric circles I had glued in that a child had drawn last week at art camp.

I let the writing be stream of consciousness. I believe this is the most therapeutic way to write and also very telling, as it reveals things about myself I would otherwise miss. "Taking the garbage out," my creative writing teacher in high school used to call it.

Finishing one prompt and running out of space in my circles, I quickly realized that this would not be the sort of journaling I would care to have anyone else read, nor would I ever care to read it again. This sort of writing is movement. It takes me from one place to the next. It is a crossover sort of art. It says, "I am here, but I want to be here, and here is how I am going to get myself there." So when I started the next prompt I just wrote over top of the words I had written on my first prompt.

I've done this in a few other places in this art journal. Writing, overwriting and then even glueing paper or painting over the journaling. It is a tool I use quite a lot...similar to being in a car by myself and talking out loud to work through something.

It's strange to say, but I think I would be like Mandy in this writing group. I am all for writing, but I don't know if I want to share. At least not everything. As an artist I appreciate the freedom to fluctuate between things shared and things that are a tool to loosen up my creativity and get me to my next.

What is most interesting to me about this, is that I am recently noticing a resurfacing of the word vulnerable that I once picked for myself to explore for a year. Previously vulnerable meant sharing it all, but there has been a maturation process that now has me wanting to go with the flow and pick and choose what is artistic expression and what is personal health and wellness.

What I came to at the end of my circular labyrinth of journaling was a clear vision for what I wanted to work on next, as an artist. Largely that came about because I didn't like what my words were saying about who I am (in one particular area of my life) and what I have spent a long time away from. The journaling ushered in change. And the art worth sharing is what those changes will bring about.

Once upon a time I found myself sitting and eating lunch in a teacher's lounge, and I was so exhausted and depressed after my time there, I vowed to never return. What I experienced as a fly on the wall was a 20 minute bitch session from which I walked away wondering if I loved my job and if I could survive. It was draining.

I have a firm belief that what happened in my journal on Monday was a similar sort of bitch session and no one, not you or I, need to read it, but I had to hear myself say those things to challenge, recognize and accept my own power to change my situation. It is the fuel for what I will bring into the world next. I drew the "Death" card today in Tarot. I have a certain fondness for endings that bring beginnings. Let the circles continue to ever widen.

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One last thing. At Wholeshot this month we also had an Introduction to Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way. It was a great gathering of wonderful people. I'm always amazed how many new faces there are to meet and new artist hearts to connect with.

After the fact I told a friend I didn't need The Artist's Way anymore. And I don't think I do need it in the same way I used to. But this journaling prompt made me realize that this "taking out the garbage" is the tool of Morning Pages that Julia Cameron speaks of, and it isn't a tool one ever grows out of entirely. It just resurfaces in a new capacity.

We are meeting next month to discuss Week One of The Artist's Way, and I have a renewed appreciation for it and an expectant, looking-forward-to-it spirit about me.

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