“In fact, many full-time artist reports that they have become more creatively rounded into full-time people.” — Julia Cameron, in The Artist’s Way (aff)
This! I struggle with this, exactly.
I’m a Writer and a Worker-bee trying to become a full-time person.
It’s only because I’m now surrounded, in my professional life, by healers and therapists and coaches that I realized how I’ve been socialized — to work, relentlessly, towards “success”; no matter the toll it takes on me, my body, my mental well-being, my relationships and my family — was deeply messed up and even violent.
And it’s not just me. This is how our dominant culture raises us. This is the narrative we try to embody.
It WILL, and does, stunt our lives.
I don’t want to be a drone. I want to be whole and precious human.
AND YOU MUST READ THE SECTION ABOUT “SHADOW ARTISTS”.
According to Cameron, a ‘shadow artist’ is someone who wants to be an artist or a creator of some kind, but instead makes a profession out of facilitating the work they’re obsessed with. So a woman who yearns to direct movies will become a producer. A person who wants to be a sculptor will become the administrator of an arts collective. A writer will become a teacher. A fashion designer will work be a sales person in a textiles company. We facilitate and administer and make it possible for other people to do the work we want to do.
That hit me like a thunder bolt. I recognize this life choice — in my own career and MANY of my clients’ and colleagues’.
Maybe I recognize it because someone I respect a lot, Ali Duffy, has talked to me about this, and writes and works on this, too. She calls it a form of losing your voice — when you get drawn into a successful career supporting the art that you should be making. She often works with successful professionals who are producers, administrators, executives in very creative fields, like television or fashion, who should be creating rather than facilitating the creation of others. She is so sharp and intelligent and knows things about life — and how to show up as a creator, in yours.
A reminder: every single one of us is a culture maker. And yes, the administration and facilitation work is GOLDEN and necessary, especially when it is your calling. But if you’re actually a frustrated artist and you’re doing facilitation work instead of making cultural objects…well that’s a shadow artist and it’s a shadow of a life. And each of us deserves to feel the sun’s warmth on our skin. Let’s be the full-on versions of ourselves. Let’s cast shadows instead of living in them.
ALSO: so many people have told me to read The Artist’s Way (aff). For like, a decade. It’s only now I’m reading it — and what the hell was I waiting for? It’s truly helpful in figuring out how to stock my creative cup so that writing is not so extractive and torturous a process.
So thank you so much to everyone I ignored about this book. I was wrong and you were so very right.
#juliacameron #theartistsway #wearetheculturemakers