Tag Archives: Dreams

The Artist’s Way Week 1: Monster’s Hall of Fame

My Creative Stifling Monster Hall of Fame

  • Me

Of all the monsters in my life, I am by far the worst. I have been my own worst enemy for as long as I can remember. I have wonderful friends and family who have pretty much always been supportive of my dreams. In fact I can’t remember a single time someone telling me that what I want to do or be was a bad idea or that I might fail. I was the one who decided (as a realist) that writing ‘wouldn’t pay the bills’ and maybe I was listening to main stream society, but I made that decision. I knew I couldn’t—or that I didn’t want to try to live off it and I was good at teaching so Poof! Teaching career. And don’t get me wrong, I love teaching, and I’m a wonderful teacher, most days, but my first love has always been writing. I can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t writing or telling stories. I convinced myself though that it wasn’t viable.

But, what if it could be?

  • A guy who in middle school ranked my “prettiness” on a scale and let’s just say I didn’t measure up to his standards

I know I’m not a super model, but when I was in elementary school I was a confident kid. I was out to conquer the world. I had loads of friends, and I was pretty extroverted. I was the first to make friends with new kids, and never allowed anyone to sit by themselves in the cafeteria. And then Middle school came and I was still that same girl…


I asked a boy to a dance.

And the boy said, “Well, on a scale of ugly to pretty Ashley falls right about here.” It was pretty close to the ugly side.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am aware that this is one child’s opinion, but I do realize that this is the moment when my personality began to change. I became less extroverted, I was no longer the center of attention (nor was I trying to be the center of attention), and quite frankly I preferred the shadows from there on out. I was ashamed. Not only of my physical appearance, but of what I created and did as well.

As a friend of mine once wisely said, middle school is quite a bitch and it’s a miracle any of us survive. If we could press a fast-forward button and skip ahead we’d all be happier people probably, but none of us would be the same. And quite frankly these experiences are what make us who we are. We can’t divorce ourselves from our pasts, or our past monsters (and quite frankly compared to other people and their monsters, I got off quite easy), but we can learn from them and move forward—fighting to become men and women, artists, we want to be.

  • Q from middle school who either didn’t like more or I perceived that she didn’t like me—either way I felt stifled as an individual and persecuted as a result.

I have always been a teacher’s pet. And maybe that’s why Mrs. Q didn’t like me. Some people don’t like kids who are constantly trying to please adults. But again, it was middle school and by this point, I think I was feeling persecuted by pretty much everyone. Sometimes I wonder if Mrs. Q actually disliked me as much as I felt like she did. I’ll never know though. She passed away not long ago, and I never asked her. Regardless, in her class I didn’t feel free to be creative, or open, which was ironic because many people who had her would say the opposite. They loved her style and how she helped them to open up and become more creative people.

  • My school system

My school system was small and had few resources for creative outlets. We had music and some art, but that was about it. I would have really thrived had I had the opportunity to take a creative writing class or even drama in high school, but I didn’t have that option, and that feels like a shame to me.

  • The NC Voter

For not fighting for the educational system more. For not making it a priority and for taking the wind out of creative outlets in schools and in teachers and in individuals who are trying to fight for these things for students and for the future.

So who are the monsters of your past? Who stifle your creativity? How do you plan to overcome them?

The Artist’s Way: Week 1–Ashley is an Artist?

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.


Recognizing you are a shadow artist.

I never really considered myself an artist. Creative, yes. Unique, absolutely. Quirky, you betcha. But, artist? When I hear the word I think of crayons, colored pencils, watercolors, paints, pottery, you know creators. Dreamers.

I’m more of a realist. A perfectionist.

What I am, I suppose is a shadow artist.

During Nano this year I met a woman who is very sure of who she is. Carenna has a plan; she has a family, she has a career, and she has it all pretty much figured out. So when we, by chance, started communicating again and it came to light that she would be teaching a class on writing, I said sign me up! The primary text we’re using: The Artist Way. And I hesitated—The Artist’s Way? Am I an artist?

Don’t get me wrong, I recognize writing as a kind of art—I’m not separating writing from that, but in a lot of ways calling myself an artist feels almost unauthentic. Except for writing, I don’t have an artistic bone in my body (not for lack of trying—I just don’t have the talent for it). But this course is for writers, so what do I have to lose.

Nothing. And really, as I’m starting to discover, I have a lot to gain including a new perspective, which is what this blog is really about after all.

So over the next 8-12 weeks I’ll be tracking some of the tasks, and activities I go through during my journey down the artist’s way. Some of them are personal, so I won’t post about them, but some are reflective so I will and perhaps, by the end, maybe I won’t be an artist (or maybe I will) but at least I’ll be more secure and will improve as a writer and that certainly is a goal worth pursuing.

Protecting your shadow artist

“Judging your early artistic efforts is artist abuse. This happens in any number of ways: beginning work is measured against the masterworks of other artists; beginning work is exposed to premature criticism, shown to overly critical friends. In short, the fledgling artist behaves with well- practiced masochism. Masochism is an art form long ago mastered, perfected during the years of self- reproach; this habit is the self- hating bludgeon with which a shadow artist can beat himself right back into the shadows.” JULIA CAMERON

In my first activity, Cameron encourages steps toward positive affirmation. So, I wrote 10 times “I, Ashley, am a brilliant and prolific writer,” but as she warns as these affirmations are written the negative will also emerge and instead of burying it inside, I should write them out and deal with it. Though a little uncomfortable, it was a way to pull myself out of denia  l and address underlying issues. I’ve included an image of my admissions, not so that people will negate the negative emotions, but to affirm to myself that they don’t have the power over me I’ve let them have for so long.

Negative beliefs are exactly that: beliefs, not facts. JULIA CAMERON

The next step is to turn them into more positive statements. So, not only did I rewrite the statements, I wrote them in a much stronger penmenship. Cameron encourages to use these affirmations as a conclusion to the morning pages exercises. I hope I can keep up with this for the next 8-12 weeks and really see a difference in how and why I write.

An affirmation is a positive statement of (positive) belief, and if we can become one- tenth as good at positive self- talk as we are at negative self- talk, we will notice an enormous change. JULIA CAMERON

Remember that in order to recover as an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist. JULIA CAMERON

I don’t do anything unless I can do it well. Accepting that I could be bad at something is hard for me, the perfectionist. How do you put yourself out there knowing you’ll be bad at it?

You take an art class—or like I’m doing next week—a cooking class. My first artist date! Wish me luck!