“People frequently believe the creative life is grounded in fantasy. The more difficult truth is that creativity is grounded in reality, in the particular, the focused, the well observed or specifically imagined.”
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
A few months back, my wife told me something that startled me. “Your book,” she said, referring to Dancing Priest, “is filled with you.”
I was surprised because (1) I’ve never been in the Olympics, (2) I do ride a bike but have never raced, (3) I am not an ordained priest or even a member of the Anglican Church, (4) I met my wife in very different circumstances than Michael Kent met Sarah Hughes, and (5) I don’t know how to tango. A quick glance says there’s very little about me that is obviously in the book, with one significant exception: how one character comes to faith is based very closely on my own experience.
So her comment at first didn’t make much sense. And then I reread it, and discovered she was right. The fiction that is Dancing Priest is grounded in reality – a reality that’s very familiar.
And more than that, the sequel manuscript is as well. I’ve been editing – wrestling is a better word – the manuscript, and I’m realizing that it, too, is grounded in a familiar reality. So are the other manuscripts in the series (if it goes that far). So is the poetry I write. And the novel manuscript that’s completely different from what I’ve done so far. And the extended outline for still another novel. And the novella I’ve been working on, which is still unfinished but I have a really cool photo by Claire Burge for the cover.
Reading over everything I’ve done, I’ve learned there are some consistent themes, also grounded in that familiar reality.
The desire to create something exceptional.
How that desire faces circumstances or people standing in the way.
Unknown, unexpected forces or people becoming actively involved, without one’s awareness.
A belief that all will come right, even if not in this life.
The reality of faith, and the conflict it evokes.
These themes play through Dancing Priest and its sequel; through six more manuscripts behind it; through a manuscript totally unrelated to Dancing Priest; and the novella.
All of the themes are grounded in a reality I’m more than familiar with.
Nonetheless, it is still surprising. I thought I had made all of this stuff up. It turns out I hadn’t. Not really.
Led by Lyla Lindquist, we’re discussing Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity over at TweetSpeak Poetry. This week’s discussion covers chapters 4 and 5 – “Recovering a Sense of Integrity” and “Recovering a Sense of Possibility.” The main article at TweetSpeak will post on Wednesday.