AW7: Recovering a Sense of Connection

Learning to listen to the creative voice and the perfectionism, risk aversion, and jealousy that deafens you to it

Here it is, the chapter I stopped at in 1998. Not sure why here. I’m hoping it’s because I got distracted by something astonishingly good (memory recalls not), because honestly this is one of my favourites so far.

This part of the programme is called “Recovering a Sense of Connection” and Cameron jumps right in talking about something I love about storytelling as a writer: becoming quiet enough to hear the creative inner voice, skilled enough to listen to what it’s saying, trusting enough to go where it wants to go, and then confident enough to fully actualise it so that you get there.

There is a kind of magic that happens in that process.

While I was writing The Fulcrum I found myself deep in this magic: as characters would start drawing energy to themselves, so would appear the synchronous connections and information needed to give this energy form; snippets of sentences and lines nonsensical at writing in 2016 suddenly made sense as the story unfolded to its close in 2022, as if the completed story was always there I was puzzling it together.

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about Big Magic and essentially channelling the idea that is already there by first claiming it, respecting it and following through on it. Cameron talks about the small leaps of faith the artist must take to trust that channel and that voice (“We practice these small leaps of faith daily in our pages and on our artist dates.”). All of this requires one’s ego and will to be firmly placed where it belongs: not dictating to the creative impulse, but holding space for it and co-creating with it.

Just loved this book

Of course, there are many ways to create and this is only one approach, but it’s the way that fills me with a feeling I get from nowhere else: the feeling of being truly powerful. Or at least “power full”. Between the long hours of writing and difficult puzzling out, between the practical dramas of getting the story into book format, I’m filled with the feeling in my hands and my body that I’m accessing an incredible power, that I’m plugging into a vast and mystical knowledge far beyond my small and limited capabilities. There’s something happening in the way it all pulls together that is beyond logic, beyond the everyday.

There really is nothing better, creatively speaking.

“Do it. If you win, you win and if you lose, you win.”

Throughout the chapter Cameron discusses everything that helps and hinders that connection and I found myself nodding along to points that resonated with me.

Perfectionism: “Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves…” Become okay with being “bad” at something: the first draft, the practice drawings, the funny sounds … without those first steps there are no following steps and there is no journey from the point at which you find yourself to the point you’d like to be.

Risk: “The success of a creative recovery hinges on our ability to move out of the head and into action.” Do the thing. Stop talking, stop wishing, stop hoping, stop praying. Just start doing it. How many times have I heard someone say “I want to write a book.” Okay. It’s pretty easy: start writing. But it’s easier to hide behind what we think we can’t do or the help we think we’re not getting. For years, I hid behind time (no time) and then publishers (no publishers). “Once we’re willing to accept that anything worth doing might even be worth doing badly our options widen.” And, maybe more importantly, we become increasingly empowered to risk more and thereby learn and grow more. I love the quote from Raging Bull she’s included: “Do it. If you win, you win and if you lose, you win.”

Jealousy: Hurrah! I wrote about jealousy in the very first post in this series and was delighted to really feel into how well I’ve used this little marker emotion to move forward. Cameron sums it up neatly in this sentence: “My jealousy had actually been a mask for my fear of doing something I really wanted to do but was not yet brave enough to take action toward.”

All three of these need to be examined if connection to the creative voice and impulse is to be possible.

So yeah I’m loving this chapter. The tasks look like fun as well, although I’ve been pretty slack on following through on them in the previous chapters. So many magazines! Damn it really was a different world in the 90s.


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Previously on the AW journey