Symptoms of Recovery

November 21, 2011

Trusting our creativity is new behavior for many of us. It may feel quite threatening initially, not only to us but also to our intimates. We may feel–and look–erratic. This erraticism is a normal part of getting unstuck, pulling free from the muck that has blocked us. It is important to remember that at first flush, going sane feels just like going crazy. There is a recognizable ebb and flow to the process of recovering our creative selves. As we gain strength, so will some of the attacks of self-doubt. This is normal, and we can deal with these stronger attacks when we see them as symptoms of recovery.

— Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way Every Day

I don’t think I’m yet in the process of recovering my creative self, but I’ll get there soon. I do still write, have been writing, but it’s been very sporadic, only about once a week lately. But I’m feeling something bubbling beneath the surface, and i’m hoping that I can bring it up soon. I believe I can.

It’s been a season of change. End of a relationship, end of an era.

I’m in my early 40s and wondering where did it all go, and where am I going from here?

I’ve been feeling like I’m learning to walk and talk again. Or going through puberty. Awkward, insecure, doubtful, emotional. I rescued a lost dog a few weeks ago and can’t get it out of my mind, but someone told me recently that I’m projecting, synthesizing the dog and myself (not that I didn’t know this, but to hear it from someone else stung and, of course, made more sense).

My teaching semester is coming to an end, and i’m partly relieved. It’s been a trying semester. But also partly sad. I love my Creative Nonfiction class. The students there are gifted, talkative (for the most part), opinionated. I love the energy of our workshops, the excitement in their faces upon hearing that your essay moved someone, the disagreeing, the challenging,  that we are dissecting and explicating and encouraging someone’s piece of writing– scary and exhilarating. I’m recalling my own days in workshops in undergrad and grad school–the nervous lump in your throat when you go up for workshop. The relief after. The walking out of the classroom into the cool night. The putting away of the piece for a few days then returning to it.

I want to take each of the writers in my class and shake them and tell them to not give up, to keep writing, to be serious, to try new things, to read read read, to write every day, to trust their creativity. I want someone to shake me up too. To tell me all of these things. To get unstuck. To pull me free.

7 Responses to “Symptoms of Recovery”

  1. Lo said:

    LOVE this post so much!
    It’s time for new adventures! The possibilities are endless!


  2. rob said:

    Thanks Lola! You’re the best!

  3. Lisabeth said:

    This is a wonderful post, rob. Reminds me of how lovely our few get togethers were, and why I’d wished they happened more often. I feel like posting the writing quote somewhere in my house. Atticus is just over 4 months now, and I am a long way still from the opportunity to find that part of myself, but I’ve been thinking about it. Your post and sharing of the quote helps keep that flicker alive. I still hope you are able to keep Hal, even if there is some projection going on there. Xo

  4. cris said:

    I love this, Rob. So timely and true. Thank you. Oh yeah, and you’re not alone in any of this!

  5. rob said:

    Thanks so much Lisabeth. I need to hear that others struggle with this. That I’m not alone. Big hug to the three of you! (well, 4, with doggie!). I really love the passages from Julia Cameron’s book and turn to it daily.

  6. Angie said:

    I hope you do keep Hal.

    Sometimes what we need the most just pops up in our lives unexpectedly. 🙂

  7. Jen Van Tieghem said:

    I was in your classes a few years ago and just thought of you today and how much you meant to me. I thought I should try to find you and tell you that… so here it is. Haha. You are a gifted writer and teacher and you and your classes supported me in some of the hardest times of my life. So thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

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