You may begin to notice that I am directly quoting Julia more and more. Frankly, the previous several chapters have felt slow and heavy at times. But clearly, she was patiently laying the groundwork for this. Now, in Chapter Eleven, her passion for helping us recognize and energize The Artist comes vividly to life. Her words are eloquent and inspiring, and I am reminded of why I fell in love with The Artist’s Way in the first place. I hope this passion is contagious.
“To a large degree,” she writes, “my life is my art, and when it gets dull, so does my work. As an artist, I may poke into what other people think of as dead ends: a punk band that I mysteriously fall for, a piece of gospel music that hooks my inner ear, a piece of red silk I just like and add to a nice outfit, thereby ‘ruining it.’
“As an artist, I may frizz my hair or wear weird clothes. I may spend too much money on perfume in a pretty blue bottle even though the perfume stinks, because the bottle lets me write about Paris in the thirties…
“As an artist, my self-respect comes from doing the work. One performance at a time, one gig at a time, one painting at a time. Two and a half years to make one 90-minute piece of film. Five drafts of one play. Two years of working on a musical. Throughout it all, I show up at the morning pages and I write about my ugly curtains, my rotten haircut, my delight in the way the light hit the trees on the morning run.
“As an artist, I do not need to be rich but I do need to be richly supported. I cannot allow my emotional and intellectual life to stagnate or the work will show it. My life will show it. My temperament will show it. If I don’t create, I get crabby.
“As an artist, I can literally die of boredom. I kill myself when I fail to nurture my artist child because I am acting like somebody else’s idea of an adult. The more I nurture my artist child, the more adult I am able to appear. Spoiling my artist means it will let me type a business letter. Ignoring my artist means a grinding depression.”
So, dear readers, I invite you to consider carefully all this. Do you see now the connections between where lack of prioritizing our “artist child” results in dysfunction as “adults?” Perhaps this is why so many blocked artists create life/love/physical dramas for themselves, instead of creating their art. Yes, even (maybe especially!) the rich and famous and the once-upon-a-time wonderful. That big creative drive has to go somewhere, so if not our authentic art, then it may channel itself into stirring up distractions and trouble in other parts of our lives.