Friday, January 26, 2007

Illustrated Dream Journal

Over the past year or so I've started illustrating my dream journal. I record the dream on the right hand side of the page and draw the illustration on the facing page. (I use an unlined journal with fairly heavy paper.)

I am not an artist. Sometimes my drawings look OK. I'm proud of a blue bead necklace I drew--with shading--from a dream in which I was trying to pawn the necklace to make money, lots of money. I needed several thousand dollars and so left my necklace for an appraisal. When I came back to the jewelry store, the sales person told me the necklace was worth $7--not the $3475.00 I needed. A lot happened in the dream but I focused on the necklace. I could see it so well in my mind's eye, when I woke up.

So I drew the necklace with a little tag attached by a string on which I wrote $7.

I also give names to my dreams, like "Seven Dollar Necklace."

As I flip through my dream book, I'm amazed at how many drawings I've made that include water and titles like "Three Lakes," "Drowned Sisters," and "School Pool."

I wouldn't be as aware of the recurring themes if I didn't draw the dream images. I use an extra-fine black pen and then my little watercolor set.

It's fun to try to capture an aspect of a dream--and no one can say, "It doesn't look like that!" Only I know what my dreams look like.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Freewriting and Rewriting

I love to freewrite and am always recommending the activity to the
writers I work with. Freewrite with a place, I'll say, or a character, a mood, a story.
See what you turn up.
We often seem to feel that we should "know" what's
going to happen next or that we should understand a complex character
in one swipe. Freewriting turns up all sorts of nuggets--that the mind
wouldn't have come up with on its own, thinking. You don't think your
way to some of these things--they emerge, kind of like dream images,
from a deep trove.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Perils of Perfectionism

Author of The Artist's Way and many other books on writing, Julia Cameron, has just published a new memoir, Floor Sample: A Creative Memoir.

She talks about her struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction as well as the pull of madness--electricity becomes dangerously charged, trees vibrate, melodies overwhelm her consciousness. She stops sleeping and eating and ends up hospitalized. It's a compelling portrait. I found one anecdote particularly poignant.

Through a friend, Cameron was able--many years ago--to send a few short stories to a New Yorker editor. The editor thought the work was promising, good in fact, but a bit heavy on sunsets and roses. Clearly the editor was interested and willing to take another look at the stories, if revised.

Cameron was so ashamed that her work had seemed overly romantic and sentimental that she put the stories away--she didn't revise and send them again. Hyper-sensitivity to criticism and hpyer-perfectionism squelched her. This is so sad and so common.

Have you ever had this problem? Write about a time when you gave up due to criticism rather than respond with positive action. How could you have responded differently? How will you respond differently in the future?