This Week, The Artist’s Way Cautions to be Careful What You Wish for Because You Just Might Get It
Cameron talks a lot about God in this book, about a higher power who is on your side and wants you to achieve your goals. I have tried to ignore this until now, glossing over any mention of God or the idea of a benevolent universe that is prepared to work in my favour.
As a lapsed Catholic, the notion of God or even a higher power has negative connotations. I think more of a force that is there to keep me in line and punish me for any transgressions. I cannot envision a God that has an interest in what I want, or in making my creative dreams come true. The God I grew up with demanded conformity and service, sacrifice and submission. The God I grew up with was not there to help me on my journey to creative self-fulfilment. He was there to be worshiped and obeyed. My personal fulfillment or anyone else’s did not come into it at all, except where it coincided with service to God.
At their funerals, the elder women in my family have been praised for their self-sacrifice, of always putting others before themselves. This is regarded as the highest level of achievement for Catholic women; to become as great a martyr as Christ Himself. To want things for yourself, things that have nothing to do with the service of others, would be considered selfish in the extreme and not worthy of God’s blessing.
Growing up, I was often told that my dream to be a writer was highfalutin and ridiculous. And so, I watered down my ambition to write novels to the more practical one of being a journalist. At least I could still make a living from writing. But even this was too much to hope for. I was told that journalism was such a competitive field that it was not even worth bothering. And so I didn’t. On leaving school, I took the first job that came along, and thought myself lucky to get it.
Shamed out of my writing dreams, I put them aside. Being a writer was not for me. Being a writer was for other people. There were only a select few that were chosen for this vocation and I wasn’t one of them.
This week, The Artist’s Way offers an exercise where you write down a series of wishes. As with the free writing of the morning pages, you must write the wishes down automatically. You cannot put too much thought or censorship into this exercise, you simply write what you feel. The last wish you must write down is for the wish you most especially want to come true. I wrote down that I wanted to make a living from my writing.
Over the past few months, I have been keeping a journal of my experiences during the COVID lockdown, which I sent to a small press. I was pleasantly surprised when they emailed back and said they would like to include several of my stories in their anthology.
While I was over the moon by this validation of my work, I could barely trust myself to believe it. I thought that the publisher would change their mind and decide not to make the book. I thought that they would find better stories from other writers and decide to leave mine out. I thought that they would go broke and the bailiff would come and take all their furniture.
For my artist’s date, I went to my favourite coffee shop. For the first time since the lockdown started, I sat down at their little wooden table and the friendly staff bought me a latte with a love heart on the top.
As I scrolled through my emails, I found one from the publisher. It congratulated me on having five of my stories included in their anthology and confirmed that the book would be available in June 2020.
I smiled, sipped my coffee and thanked my higher power.