The Artist’s Way, week four, asks us to give up reading. Julia Cameron promises, “If you feel stuck in your life or in your art, few jump starts are more effective than a week of reading deprivation.” I highlighted this passage down the page a bit (yes, we’re still allowed to read The Artist’s Way):
“Reading deprivation is a very powerful tool–and a very frightening one. Even thinking about it can bring up enormous rage. For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own.” (87)
I’ve done this before, of course, and I knew it was coming. In the abstract, it didn’t sound like that big of a deal. A week! Hah! I can do anything for one week!
And I know that I’m a reading addict. I know that giving up reading has been a powerful experience for me in the past. (Remember the Responsible Living workshop, to which I lugged not one but TWO BAGS of books, only to discover that I wasn’t going to be allowed to read for 3 days? Not even at night before falling asleep! And how powerful was that?)
So why all this reluctance?
I bargained for an extra day, thinking I could finish the Maisie Dobbs mystery at least (then I read 80 pages of an Alice McDermott novel instead; and a chapter from my new Rebecca Solnit collection, a Christmas gift, after all). I bargained with myself about whether or not I could read emails and blogs (emails, okay provisionally, but not blogs, I decided). Could I read my new issue of The Sun? (No.)
Next Tuesday morning, it will all be waiting for me. The last 44 pages of the Maisie Dobbs mystery will still be there and the story will roll on.
Meanwhile, I’m going to spend a little time working on poetry. I’m going to do some decluttering. I’m going to do a jig-saw puzzle.
I’m going to try–over the Christmas holiday–to be present with not only my family but also with my own thoughts and feelings.