The balm of words

Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way is a gem in its entirety and has been coaching creative awareness for years.  I must first and foremost confess that I have not finished it cover to cover yet, but I will nevertheless stick my neck out and attest to its wonder.  Over this year’s Grahamstown National Arts Festival, I was extremely privileged to be working for Think!Fest – attending the lectures and writing for the Think!Fest WordPress blog.  One of the speakers who compelled me most was Dawn Garish – medical doctor, writer, poet, dancer – prescribed her favorite and most used remedy to the entire audience, The Artist’s Way.  In my Writing and Editing course, our Monday lectures incorporated some of these techniques – we wrote freely and frantically, childhood memories flooded back as we drew with wax crayons, we wrote entire stories stemming from one word, and brought our inner-creator out to play.

I was again reminded of Dawn’s uncomplicated encouragement, and inspiring honesty.  After listening to her, this is what I wrote in conclusion of the experience:

If we accept the scary truth – that we have NO control over the ebb and flow of the river of life – we are set free. “Thank goodness we’re not in control!” Dawn exclaims. “Otherwise our projects would turn out as small as we imagined them… Your ideas are good, but I promise the Muse has better ones!” Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, we need to relinquish our false sense of control and dive in head-first – giving ourselves the space to make mistakes, letting the channel open for something to be expressed through us, and allowing the fantastic flood which ensues. (extract from my full article “Creative practice as a tool for living with Dawn Garish”)

This is creativity – we must master our craft, then as Charles Parker observed, “then forget all that @#$%!* and play!”  Julie Cameron closes The Artist’s Way with a poem that resonated with me so about my relationship with the impossible and inescapable little playful pixies words are in their evasive attitude:


I wish I could take language

And fold it like cool, moist rags.

I would lay words on your forehead.

I would wrap words on your wrists.

“There, there,” my words would say –

Or something better.

I would ask them to murmur,

“Hush” and “Shh, shhh, it’s all right.”

I would ask them to hold you all night.

I wish I could take language

And daub and soothe and cool

Where fever blisters and burns,

Where fever turns yourself against you.

I wish I could take language

And heal the words that were the wounds

You have no names for.

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