Tag: Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron

An Artist's Date through the Secret Gardens of Provincetown

 When the well runs dry and the words won’t come, it’s time to get up out of your chair or wherever you perch while you write and go for a walk. I’m a big fan of what Julia Cameron calls an Artist’s Date, a little expedition aimed at refilling the creative well. I go on Artists Dates regularly and want to take you with me on my most recent one.             The annual Secret Garden Tour in Provincetown, Massachusetts is a testament to the bodies and souls of those who battle sandy soil, wild wind, and salty air. But beyond admiring the stamina and artistic abilities of these hardy gardeners, I accept their invitations into their secret gardens as an opportunity to reawaken my imagination.            Who lives in a house with a shrine to David?             Why does the person who lives here walk the beach and collect these stones? Is she heartbroken? Is she a hoarder? Does she know she’s breaking the law?             Who lives behind this purple door? Who paints a door purple? Is it to keep people off guard or to attract attention?             Who are the people who sit outdoors in this garden? Do they have wild parties slamming down margaritas while they talk politics and art? Or is it the garden of a lonely man who listens to the hum from his bee hives in the background while he waits, hoping someone will join him?             What about these wild flowers? Does the woman who is trying to contain them within her garden want to control the people in her life?             Take a look at these photos and see if they are whispering stories to you. Then get up from your chair, talk a walk, and refill your dry empty well.  

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A Writer's Field Trip

Let me take you on an Artist’s Date. What? You don’t know what an Artist’s Date is? It’s what I call a field trip for creative souls. Everyone is a creative soul. Some people just haven’t discovered it yet.              Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way and forty other books, is the Great Creativity Nurturer in my view. The Artist’s Date is designed as an excursion to fill the creative well. It can be an outing to an art gallery, a library, a yarn shop – any place that speaks to your creative spirit. Often color, scent, texture, and other sensual appeals are part of the destination. One of my favorite Artists Dates is to Jules Besch Stationers in Truro, Massachusetts, which is on Outer Cape Cod.            Meet Proprietor, Michael Tuck, a man with a passion for all things paper. He lovingly tends to the desires and needs of his devoted clientele and has created an environment perfect for an artist’s date            For a writer, there is eye candy everywhere. In addition to exquisite stationery, notecards, greeting cards for all occasions, there are displays throughout the shop nestled within nooks and crannies. Antique letter openers, ink wells, pens, and bookends so gorgeous, you might actually miss the array of gorgeous antique desks where Michael has tenderly arranged artifacts.              In the rear of the first floor, you will find notebooks and journals. There is at least one for every writer, whether you prefer lined or blank paper, leather bound, or the plebeian spiral like I do. I’m partial to a spiral bound notebook that has paper made of stone. It is so smooth, I’ve been heard asking other writers to “Feel my journal, please.” There are few circles where I can implore others to indulge in the love of paper and all things writing but here I browse with other members of my tribe.             Another room is filled with notecards for those of us who understand email has not replaced a handwritten expression of congratulations or sympathy. The selection ranges from tasteful and convention to humorous and a little outrageous. I recently sent a thank you note on a notecard with a tiny hydrangea on the front by Crane and got a thank you for my thank you.            Upstairs, you can roam through and touch sheets of elegant and joyful paper just waiting for you to find a purpose for. You may decide to wrap a gift, cover a book, or just display it above your desk to occasionally marvel at. There are party invitations and cocktail napkins with vintage photos. “My idea of a balanced diet is a drink in each hand,” boasts one woman from the fifties.            By the time you head to the cash register with your loot, your creative well will be overflowing. But the best is yet to come. The inevitable conversation with Michael tops it all, filled with folklore about Cape Cod and his adventures with paper and antiques. On a lucky day, you may find his beloved black lab there. You’ll probably not have noticed the quiet music playing in the background, but it’s there. Michael wraps your goods in lovely tissue, places them in a decorative bag, and then attaches a sprig of whatever is in season. I got a fragrant lily of the valley last week.              As you exit through a sun porch filled with African violets, antique photos, cloches, and sunshine, you feel your shoulders lighter and find a smile of your face. You’re ready to go back to work, even looking forward to it. Your Artist Date is a success.                 Where do you fill your creative well?(Jules Besch is located at 3 Great Hollow Road, Turo, Massachusetts.) 

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Meeting heroes

I can date the moment I became interested in Tudor history. It was back in the 1990s, when I was a young mother and happened to pick up Alison Weir’s book, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Enthralled is not too strong a word to use to describe my reaction. Since then I’ve read all her books, and for the last two weeks, I’ve gotten to spend time with her as I traveled around England as part of her Tudor tour. I’m happy to report that she’s just as lovely and smart as I would have hoped, but that led me to ask my fellow Miss Demeanors: Have you ever met any of your heroes? How did that go? And this is what they said: Tracee: I can’t say that I’ve met one of my heroes – perhaps I don’t have a concrete fix on who they would be! I’ve certainly met people I admire and I’ve never had a bad experience. In fact, I’ve always been amazed that they are in fact nice ordinary people despite their ‘day jobs’ or worldwide fame. In particularly I had this experience when I met Juan Carlos of Spain. I was struck by how difficult it must be to live your life entirely in the public eye, yet remain gracious and quite frankly normal. I had quite a different experience when I met Viktor Yushchenko at the papal funeral. I only knew that he was president of Ukraine and married to an American. When he shook my hand I confess that half of my brain thought, oh my gosh this is what they meant by horribly disfigured by the failed assassination attempt with dioxin. (This was only months afterward.) At the exact same time, emphasis on exact, the other half of my brain thought, I have never met such a handsome charismatic person. Which is a little insight into what real charisma can do for a person. While not a hero of mine, he was memorable and charming, and certainly I won’t forget meeting him. Robin: I’ve gotten to meet not one but two of my heroes (so far), Dean Koontz and Joseph Finder. I met Mr. Koontz at a book signing (his, not mine, darn it). I met Joe Finder at a conference and went full fan girl on him before I could stop myself. He handled it with good grace and humor. A cool aspect of that encounter is that Hank Phillipi Ryan is the one who introduced us. She’s also fabulous. Alexia: I heard Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak but there were about a gazillion people attending the lecture so I didn’t get anywhere near him. I’ve heard Walter Mosley speak at conferences twice but I confess I never worked up the courage to actually meet him. I felt kind of like Dorothy in the courtyard of the Great and Powerful Oz. Jonathan Kellerman wasn’t my hero until I met him at Left Coast Crime. He turned out to be so normal instead of a Big Name Author who couldn’t be bothered with the hoi polloi. He even came over to me and congratulated me on my Lefty win. So now he’s my hero. Michele: I’ve always been politically active so I’ve had the opportunity to meet many political figures that I admire, although few qualify as heroes. My real heroes are writers. In 1988, I bought a debut novel in hardcover for one of my early trips to St. John, taking a chance on a new author. The writing and plot in A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George blew me away. I’ve read every book written by her since then, loving that she still sends me to the dictionary almost thirty years later. In 2015, I got to meet Elizabeth at the New England Crime Bake and to take a class with her. She is a gifted and generous writing teacher. At an earlier Crime Bake, I had breakfast with Sue Grafton whom I’ve traveled almost the entire alphabet with for twenty years. She was more interested in what writer Ang Pompano (on her other side) and I had to say, than in regaling us with tales about her. She shares a wry sense of humor with her protagonist, Kinsey Milhone. I have to include Hank Phillippi Ryan as another hero. She is a very talented writer, but also is the most generous and inclusive author I know. She gladly encourages, supports, and launches new and veteran writers. Hank epitomizes how sharing a writing community can and should be. Paula: I’ve had the good fortune to meet many of my heroes, all of whom are writers. Starting with Alice Hoffman. I collect first editions of her work, and so I go to her signings, where I’ve met her several times. She’s as wonderful as her books. I made her laugh once, and that was a very good day. I’ve also met Lee Child, the loveliest man ever. And Elizabeth George and John Updike and Stephen King and Elizabeth Berg and William Kent Krueger and Judy Blume and Julia Cameron and, well, I could go on forever, because I’ve been going to writer’s conferences and books signings forever. On my list to meet next are Louise Penny and Mark Nepo and Abigail Thomas. And if I ever make it to that big writer’s retreat in the sky, I hope to meet Maya Angelou and Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen and Shakespeare and Nora Ephron and Agatha Christie and….  

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