Week 6 Challenges us to Believe That Creativity and Financial Security Can Work Hand in Hand.
I have always seen my writing as something separate from my ability to make an income. It was something that I did after work and on weekends, something that I fitted around the necessity of earning a living.
Sometimes, this “double shift” would catch up with me and I became physically and mentally depleted, sometimes rundown to the point of illness. I worried that my creative life was impinging on my “real life” and that is was affecting my performance at work.
In other words, I saw creativity and money as being at odds with each other. I could not envision that they could actually work in tandem. There are many people who not only make a living, but often achieve great wealth pursuing their creative passion.
But I could not imagine being one of them.
To prosper from one’s creative work was only for a chosen few. These people are an anomaly, the rest of us are destined for drudgery and sacrifice because that’s the way it is.
This week, The Artist’s Way challenges us to believe in abundance, that there is enough in the universe for everyone. In fact, many studies have shown that the earth has plenty of food, water and clean air for everyone on the planet.
It’s distribution that is the problem.
Cameron directs us to “consider the lilies,” who never worry about how to make ends meet. The lilies have faith that God will provide. She tells us that rather than put our faith in money as the bedrock of security, we should put our faith in God. God does not want us to hide our light under a bushel. God wants us to shine. In pursuing our God-given talents, we are honouring Him and in return, He will provide.
Well that’s the theory, anyway.
But doing something we enjoy can sometimes seem frivolous. When I sit down on a Saturday morning to write my novel, my mind often crowds with thoughts of my unwashed floors, unpaid bills and avalanche of laundry. Sometimes, I think that my time would be better spent upgrading some employable skills, like that Business Admin course I let slide.
But Cameron argues that when we think that doing what we want is frivolous we have a toxic relationship with God. God speaks to us through our creativity, and when we ignore the call to paint, write or dance, we are ignoring God’s plan for us and his promise to provide.
Instead, we find solace in martyrdom, in giving up what we want to do for what we think we have to do. But it doesn’t have to be that way. While we must attend to the practical demands of life, we can still make time for creativity. We can dance around the kitchen while we cook dinner, we can do a quick writing sprint at lunchtime, we can dash off a quick sketch on the train into work.
Giving ourselves small treats and breaks creates a sense of abundance. It doesn’t have to be anything big, time consuming or expensive. We can buy a pot plant for our desk at work, spend 15 minutes writing morning pages or take a relaxing bubble bath on the weekend.
For my artists date, I went on a mini break to a rural location. My husband and I planned this trip a while ago, to make up for our overseas holiday that was cancelled due to the COVID crisis. Apart from giving us a break, I had planned this trip to research the location of my next novel.
As the trip grew closer, I had considered cancelling it because I haven’t worked for a while and our savings are running low. When I suggested this to my husband, he said not to worry about it, everything would be alright. He might not be religious, but he certainly puts his faith in the universe.
And so. we went away to a beautiful cabin in the Alpine region of Victoria. As we drove through the winding country roads, I took in the vastness all around me, so different from the cloistered suburb I had been confined to. Undulating, verdant hills. Drifting, pillowy clouds. The smoky, woody smell from the smokestack as we crunched up the gravel driveway. The trilling of the birds breaking the silence of the morning air. The marshy ground underfoot.
All these sights and sounds, all this sensory detail, the irreplaceable experience of simply being there. I would have had none of it had I stayed at home and saved my pennies.
Inspired by my experiences, I sat down at the wooden dining table in our cabin and fleshed out the outline of the novel I’ve been working on. That night, when we dined at a local pub, I told my husband my story idea. I don’t often discuss my story ideas with him, but being relaxed and on holiday, I let my guard down.
I rambled about the plot and subplots, the character arcs and points of view, the inciting incident, setting and the dénouement.
Feeling like a mad-woman, I was glad for social distancing and that the other diners were out of earshot. I don’t usually go on about my stories in public places.
When I finished my story, I sat back and looked at my husband, who had been listening in silence as I spoke. He’s not literary, and I worried that I had said too much, that I had burdened him with something that was of no value or interest to his technically oriented mind.
He looked at me for a moment and I braced myself for what he was about to say. He looked me in the eyes and said.
“Naomi, you’ve just worked out the whole thing.”
And he thought it was a good idea.
I often say that writing a novel makes about as much financial sense as buying a tattslotto ticket, there are no guarantees. But the small amount of time and money I invested on researching the setting of my novel paid dividends in the results it yielded.
So maybe it’s time I changed my negative outlook and opened my mind to what the universe may give me.