Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again

Flags flying at the Noxon Bicentennial Park
Noxon, Montana

I`m back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again
To hear Gene Autry sing "Back in the Saddle Again," click here.

I've been feeling stymied lately.  There is still so much to do as far as getting settled into the new house that I tend to climb into my recliner and curl up with a good book.  I do have a few of them around.  I've been cataloging my library using the website, and to date I have added 1,314 books to my personal catalog.  Most of these books are packed in boxes waiting for new shelves to be built, the thirteen bookcases installed in my library being filled almost to capacity.  Of those thirteen cases, I've added only four shelves of books to my librarything catalog.  There's a long way to go.  It doesn't help that everytime I open a previously unopened box, it has books in it.  I knew I had a library, but as George Takei says, "Oh Myy!"

Always carry your camera, you never know what might show up
 At the Big Sky Pantry, Milepost 12, Montana Highway 200

Meanwhile, I haven't been writing.  Oh, a blog post every now and again, and some short quips on Facebook, but nothing serious, nothing personal, nothing regular.  Well, let's hope Julia Cameron can come to my rescue.  Cameron is the author of The Artist's Way and numerous other books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, and even one movie.  Many of our Creative Pulse students found The Artist's Way helpful, and I even started a separate blog when I began working my way through Cameron's God is No Laughing Matter.  One of the books I unpacked early (and set aside for inspiration to strike) was her work The Sound of Paper:  Starting from Scratch.  Last night I picked it up and began reading.

Stop along the way and smell the daisies.
Big Sky Pantry, Milepost 12, Montana Highway 200

In my experience, reading a Julia Cameron book is an interactive experience.  Especially so the books that deal with spurring creativity.  The Sound of Paper is no exception.  The book is made up of a collection of short essays, and each essay is followed by an assignment that Cameron sets for the reader.  In addition, Cameron has three activities she strongly recommends to all those who would follow her advice.  The first is writing your Morning Pages.  The idea of the Morning Pages is that first thing in the morning, before you get into any of the details of the day, you sit with your pen and paper and write out longhand whatever floats through your mind until you have covered at least three pages with ink.

The Clark Fork River at Noxon, Montana

I have written my Morning Pages at different times in my life, and have always found the exercise helpful.  I just picked up a notebook from my desk and found written on the first page "5/22/07  So we're back to the three pages a day routine."  Every one of the 160 lined pages in that green, hard bound "Celtic Journal" is covered with words, the last entry continuing on to the green sheet of paper at the very end, and dated "Sunday, July 29, 2007, 7:00 a.m."  What should be obvious from the May 22nd post is that this journal is not the first I've filled with Morning Pages.  Looking back at The Artist's Way, I see that Cameron says "There is no wrong way to do morning pages."  I had thought we were to write them, then throw them away, but no.  We can write them on single sheets and then put them in an envelope.  We can write them on the pages of a spiral notebook if we wish.  I choose to write them in hardbound journals.  Cameron does suggest that no one else be allowed to read our Morning Pages, and indeed for those following the course of study proposed in The Artist's Way, even the writer him/herself shouldn't go back through them, at least not for the first eight weeks of the program.  Cameron specifies just what we're doing here.  "Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness. ... They might also, more ingloriously, be called brain drain, since that is one of their main functions."  I won't comment on draining brains, but I KNOW from experience that I am more productive when I have written my Morning Pages.  They are so important to me that I capitalize them, even though Cameron does not.

Cameron has two other tools to use in nurturing your own creativity.  The Artist Date is a weekly exercise where we romance our inner artist.  I'll talk more about this activity in the future.  Finally, a twenty-minute walk daily should do wonders to clear out the cobwebs.  Once a week, Cameron suggests making the walk much longer, adding an hour to our twenty minute walks.  Again, I'll address my walks in a subsequent post.

This MinPin owns the boat pictured above.  (Thank God my own kids aren't this fat.)

So here I am, back in the saddle, having written my first set of Morning Pages in several years.  And how did it change my day?  Well, having drained my brain, I was free to have breakfast, read my email, catch up with Facebook, and do some other correspondence on-line.  Having moved quickly through activities that usually take me all morning, I grabbed the vacuum and the mop and attacked the tile floor in the den.  I've been looking at it for weeks wishing that it were cleaner, and now it is.  Once I finished the floor, I undertook the first of the exercises Cameron sets out in The Sound of Paper.  The exercise consisted of putting together a collage of pictures taken from magazines--pictures that speak to you for whatever reason, even if you don't know why.  She suggests taking 15-20 magazines and pulling out whatever pictures resonate.  Spend half an hour doing that, then cut out the images and glue them onto poster board.  I had just finished a half hour's worth of grabbing pictures when Kevin called.  I left to meet him in town, and spent the rest of the day riding with him on the tail end of his bread delivery route, Thompson Falls, Trout Creek and Noxon, Montana.  Noxon is sixty miles west of Plains, and fifteen miles from the Idaho state line.  I always take my camera along, so with this post you can see a bit of what I saw today.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.  I know I'm enjoying the process.

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