A funny thing happened yesterday. After I wrote the post about how much I was struggling with answering the call, I posted it to a Facebook group of people who've come together around an online workshop we all took recently - Lisa Congdon's "Become a Working Artist". The first person to respond recommended I read The Artist's Way - the proverbial bible of how to be an artist, as they had been working through it and finding it useful.
Funny thing is I've owned a copy for at least a few years, and though I think I've cracked it open a couple times, I never made it past the intro. Alas, I've often found that when the time is right, the book finally resonates, so I went and pulled it off of my shelf upstairs. Then I sat down, and pressed on through the preamble, and both Introductions (I have the 10th Anniversary edition, so there's an intro before the intro) in full. All the way into the first chapter.
What do you know - the time was right. From page 5:
Working with this process, I see a certain amount of defiance and giddiness in the first few weeks. This entry stage is followed closely by explosive anger in the course's midsection. The anger is followed by grief, then alternating waves of resistance and hope...
This choppy growth phase is followed by a strong urge to abandon the process and return to life as we know it.
BAM! Well, there you have it. I may not have been working through The Artist's Way yet, but I have certainly been on my own creative journey. Having lots of ups and downs. Probably on the cusp of some kind of breakthrough when suddenly I want to quit!
Apparently, my feelings are equally as textbook as I believe them to be unique.
The book goes on to say,
People are often tempted to abandon the course at this point. I call this a creative U-turn. Recommitment to the process next triggers the free-fall of a major ego surrender. Following this, the final phase of the course is characterized by a new sense of self marked by increased autonomy, resilience, expectancy, and excitement--as well as by the capacity to make and execute creative plans.
Well then. I guess I'd better stop trying to talk myself out of this, and get at it with this recommitment.
I'm beyond tired of being a "shadow artist", as Julia Cameron, the book's author calls it - someone who knows deep down that this is what they were meant to do, and yet who has convinced herself (after not being supported in pursuing the dream/calling) that it's not for her. Whose self-esteem around her abilities is too low to even take herself seriously. Who enviously follows the work of other artists... allowing herself to adore the work, but not fully admitting she'd actually rather BE the artist.
It's hard to believe it's possible that this could really happen, but not believing it's possible is old news, and frankly, it's gotten boring. I may have lost many things that feel like necessary stepping stones to success, but as Nina says, I've got life, so guess it's not too late yet.