The title for week 3 in The Artist’s Way is, “Recovering a Sense of Power.” There are a lot of tasks related to remembering childhood things – my room, my traits, my accomplishments. There are tasks related to habits now and people who nurture me. And there are tasks related to people I admire.
Did I really think about any of these things much over the past week? Well, my habits, for sure. My attempts to get into the habit of drawing aren’t going so well. I had to call my son and tell him the things he assigned me (contour drawings, positive/negative space explorations, shape-to-shape studies) didn’t get completed. I discovered I’m having a lot of trouble developing a new habit that’s outside the scope of writing. I sort of chip away at it, read a little, draw just enough to think what I’m putting on the page is awful, and then I go to the kitchen and cook because that always makes me feel better.
This perceived failure to get right into a new habit is an interesting piece to think about. It takes a long time to develop a habit, have it fit into a life. Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten into the habit of commenting on other people’s poems because of my work as an editor. The team I work with is expected to comment in a meaningful way on as many submissions as possible. The development of that habit forced me to expand what I knew about poetry. I’m constantly looking up information on various poetic forms as well as references I don’t recognize or don’t know enough about when they appear in someone’s work, and reading bits of literary criticism to bolster my scope. I’ve done a lot of work around how to comment on other people’s poetry without seeming unfair, uneducated, or uncaring while maintaining an expected standard for publication. Now that I’m fully invested in this sort of editorial work, there is a sense of power that goes with it: yes, I do know how to do this sort of thing even in the face of others who might tell me flat-out that I’m full of [fill in your favorite pile of crap here].
My son is powerful as an artist. I love that he’s willing to teach me what he can. The development of drawing as a habit may or may not happen for me. The important thing I hope to learn is how to look at things the way a visual artist looks at them, to transfer some of that kind of vision to the way I arrange words on a page. The habit of seeing space in more than one way is what I’m really after.
Where is your power? What habits do you have that exercise that power?