Friday, January 23, 2009


I am an avid journaler, have been for a number of years after reading Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way". Before I started writing in journals I would sometimes sit writing installments in a long letter to my best friend and I noticed that every time I let myself loose in the stream of my thoughts answers and inspiration for use elsewhere would present themselves. So, when I read about 'morning pages' in "The Artist's Way" I figured such a journal would be the way to capture all those gems on a daily basis.

My best friend still receives letters from me, and I from her - her husband says he really admires the way we persist with our epistles in these days of email - but my journal has become an ocean of consciousness, no mere stream! These notebooks, I often think to myself, would be a psychiatrist's wet dream. When the trickle of inspiration became a river I decided I had better find a way to set up a catalog or index so that nothing would fall through the cracks. There is nearly always lag time between the moment inspiration strikes and the moment I formally begin a project, with periods of illumination of details sandwiched between those moments.

To catch all these moments of inspiration and illumination I have begun to cull through the pages and note entries on my desk calendar. This exercise is usually how I occupy myself on road trips to Virginia with my husband or in other oddments of time.

Yesterday I came across an entry which illustrated dramatically the service art provides in my life as I pursue my creativity. The entry is dated September 7, 2008, only one week after I had launched my first blog, with the first post inspired in part by William Butler Yeats' poem "The Circus Animals' Desertion". Here is an excerpt from that entry:
" ... I hate it when I get testy ... As I wrote that ... I realized that perhaps the way to counter this feeling is to just keep returning to that warehouse in Melissa's dream.
"I must admit that the landscape of that dream is where I feel comfortable. You know, it feels honest. Is that strange? I don't mean it to be, but there, there among the discarded things, the broken things, "the sweepings of a street", for me in this time it is one of the few places that feel honest to me!"

Even now, over four months later, when I consider those words I know I hit the mark. There is no pretense in an abandoned place, a forgotten place, filled with abandoned, forgotten things and people if such places are occupied at all. There is no pretense about piles of refuse and decaying structures. Stripped of pretense and lacking artifice such places hold for me "heart mysteries there".

Now here I must note a paradox: I arrived at these heart mysteries in this forgotten place stripped of artifice - through artifice. With ingenuity, inventiveness, I found sanctuary.

Artifice practiced as creativity leads to what is honest, and what is honest is all we need to change the world.


paris parfait said...

Barbara, I've just found you through Di Mackey's site and I must say I'm impressed with (a) your photos and (b) your writing and (c) the fact that you and your friend still exchange long letters! What a wonderful thing to take the time to write things by hand in this busy day and age. I think handwriting journals, notes and letters makes them all the more precious and memorable. I rarely take the time to handwrite anything other than thank-you notes or notes accompanying gifts and packages, but I am trying to write in a journal more often. I'm afraid my handwriting has suffered greatly after years of neglect! Lovely blog you have and I'll be back to visit again. P.S. The Antoine de Saint-Exupery quote from The Little Prince is one of my all-time favourites. It was the first book I bought for my daughter, even before she was born! :)

Barbara said...

Your generous and complimentary comment will have me singing all day. Thank you for visiting the site and let me say in advance that I will take it as an honor should my work impress you.

My friend (about whom I plan to write a future post) and I have been sending handwritten correspondence for nearly thirty years, l-o-n-g before email, and it is just such a part of who we are! We tried emails and typewritten letters but neither of us liked it. I guess I am just a curious hybrid creature - low-tech fountain pen afficionada (thank you Louis Waterman!)and high-tech blogger.

Isn't "The Little Prince" an absolute treasure? I read it (and Margery Williams' "The Velveteen Rabbit") every now and again. When my friend's daughter celebrated her 18th birthday I sent her a copy, something to carry out into the world so to speak.