Yes, yes, I realize that the last time I wrote my “weekly” Artist’s Way post was a month ago, but I’ve got to start again sometime.
I usually write about some quote from the chapter that has stuck out to me and which has moved me toward creativity. This week the most surprising and interesting thing to me was one of the tasks that the author assigned at the end of the chapter. I was to do a “Goal Search” in which I would try to put a finger on my ultimate dream, “one concrete goal that signals…its accomplishment”, and the steps that I can realistically take to reach that goal right now, tomorrow, in one month, one year, three years and five years. Kind of an intimidating exercise. But I never dreamed that I would make so many surprising discoveries about myself through it.
To begin the exercise, I was to finish the sentence, “In a perfect world, I would secretly love to be a _________.” This is what I wrote:
In a perfect world, I would secretly love to be a musician.
I nearly dropped my pen when I read that. I thought that I wanted to be a writer! I started hyperventilating, my eyes rolled back into my head. Then I was writing furiously in my journal, angrily raving at my subconscious for throwing a curveball like that. I completely ignored my unfinished exercise for two days, too afraid to return to it, imagining that if I did, I’d have to stop writing, start learning the guitar, and forget my unfinished novel.
But then I hesitantly, timidly stepped back to my notebook where the horrible word “musician” was written so unashamedly and finished the exercise. I discovered that I wanted to be able to express myself through songwriting, an art form which adds deep emotion to its words through music. My heroes were Josh Ritter and Kate Stoner; people who have moved me deeply through their own heartfelt songs.
I finished with a sigh of relief. That wasn’t so bad. Then I re-read something in the instructions of the exercise. “If multiple dreams occur to you, do the exercise for each one of them.” Another dream had, in fact, occurred to me while I was dreaming of becoming a musician.
In a perfect world, I would secretly love to be a worship leader.
I mean, come on…what better work of creativity than to lead someone into the throne room of God? Then another dream, and another:
In a perfect world, I would secretly love to be a well respected author.
In a perfect world, I would secretly love to be an actress.
WHAT? Where the heck did that come from?
During the next few days I mulled over my various dreams. If I had been honest with myself before, I would have noticed these dreams within my heart. They are a part of me and have been for years. I remember Ellie asking me, nearly a decade ago, if I could be a genius at one art form, which it would be. I had said that I wished I could be a brilliant composer. (She’s the one who wished to be a writer.) As far as the actress thing goes, well…*cough*…maybe I know where that one came from. I’ve always had a secret fantasy of either a)accepting an Oscar or b)appearing on David Letterman. To be honest, it’s all about the glamor and the dress for me.
As I continued thinking about these things, I started to get more comfortable with my multiple dreams. It’s not as if there’s an economy of dreams. I can have as many as I want. And if I choose to pursue one dream in particular, I can still live out my other dreams in small ways.
So on Saturday morning, while Logan was off helping Mike cut down some trees, I wrote a song. There had been something that I’d been wanting to tell Logan for a while, but couldn’t seem to articulate it for him just right, so I wrote my feelings into lyrics. Then I pulled out Logan’s guitar (my piano was thirty miles away in my grandmother’s living room) and started strumming the three chords that I know. They didn’t really work right, so I pulled out the chord book, then looked on the internet for some more chords. Then I started playing.
I don’t know the last time that I had so much fun. Every time I got to the end of the song, I laughed from pure delight. I couldn’t wait to sing it to Logan. I couldn’t wait to hear it again. I played it over and over and over until my fingers were raw and my wrist was seizing up. Then I would take a break and play it again. My song was beautiful.
Later on that day, I played the song for Logan. I forgot one of the lines once. I paused before the difficult chord changes. My voice cracked on the high notes. I realized that the lyrics didn’t really fit with the music. Oh no! It was terrible. At the end of the song, Logan laughed and said that my song was incredible. I believe that it really was incredible to him, but now I knew the truth.
For the rest of the day, I hummed the song in my head and went from thinking, “It’s beautiful,” to “It’s awful!” and back again. I just couldn’t decide which it was. Then I remembered Julia Cameron’s words of wisdom on taking baby steps. This song was my baby step. Of course it was terrible. I’d never done anything like it. But it was also beautiful, because of the joy it brought to me and to Logan, because it was the fulfillment of a dream that God had placed in my heart. And there were some parts, be they few and far between, that really were pretty and lyrics that really were funny and well worded. I think. Maybe not.
It’s terrible! It’s beautiful. It’s awful! I love it…