Julia Cameron says she can be creative at home

When I was twenty, I first heard about “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron’s best-selling self-help book, 1992, when I was about exploiting your inner creativity when I was twenty, and I had a hard time finishing a writing that made me busy. months. A friend of mine mentioned the book, which is large and flexible like an elementary school math workbook, and I wandered into Union Square Barnes & Noble to grab a copy. Then I immediately pushed it into my bag like a smuggled item. There’s something about “The Artist’s Way” that catches the eye at first – oh, so you think artist? The language of the book, by summoning a higher power called the Great Creator, who wants you to do things, and lines like “there is magic, grace, and power in action,” is felt even by them. woo-woo tolerance. But the advice in it is surprisingly practical and effective. Cameron offers two basic exercises for activating creative energies. The first is the Morning Pages, a ritual in which we scribble three elongated, self-conscious pages every day, preferably before drinking coffee. The second is Artist Dates, a weekly “festive, individual expedition,” such as going to a museum or walking in a strange neighborhood to stimulate the mind through flânerie. What resonates with many readers is Cameron’s objective attitude to getting things done and overcoming a lack of self-confidence: getting the job done requires constant, everyday practice. His techniques are astonishingly widespread: “The Artist’s Way” has sold more than four million copies, and writers and celebrities swear by Elizabeth Gilbert to Alicia Keys. During the pandemic, the book jumped back to the bestseller lists.

Before becoming a self-help celebrity, Cameron also pursued a number of other professional lives. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and became a star of the New Journalism movement in the 1970s when he wrote Rolling stone and the Village Voice about Watergate and coastal drugs; one writer described the “East Coast as Eve Babitz”. He was married to director Martin Scorsese for two years, between 1975 and 1977, which began after he was interviewed for a magazine article and the man asked him to work on a screenplay for “Taxi Driver”. The two of them had a daughter together, and after the marriage ended, Cameron found himself having a hard time filming the Los Angeles screenplay. He sobered up and started writing motivational essays for his friends who were still stuck in bad mental places. Over the course of a decade, these texts evolved into SoHo’s cult workshop and then into a self-published Xeroxed workbook. At the urging of her second husband, Mark Bryan, Cameron contacted a literary agent who had a publishing contract with her. The “Artist’s Path” began slowly, spreading word of mouth, but soon became the backbone of “dissolving” literature. In the years since, Cameron has written dozens of similar books.

Now seventy-three, Cameron lives in a cozy adobe house on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico. I visited him one morning in December. We were sitting in the purple living room of her house as her westie terrier, Lily, circled our ankles. Cameron had Lily’s fluffy white hair and lined his eyes with a hoop. During my conversation, he woke up several times to bring me various artistic trinkets from his life: a pack of medicine cards from Taos, a small Casio keyboard on which he writes music, a binder full of poems. He showed me the printing of a recent profile of his daughter, Domenica Cameron-Scorsese, who is currently an actor and director who mentioned both of her parents as equal creative influences. During the pandemic, Cameron wrote a new book that has just been published, “The Search for Wisdom,” which encourages artists to tune into their spirituality to help them make decisions. Like most of Cameron’s methods, this latest one combines concrete activity with free-form thinking; he believes that the mind often follows the hand. We have compressed and edited our conversation.

Did you make your morning pages today?

I was excited to meet because of the epidemic. So that’s what I wrote in the Morning Pages. I do them every day.

What is your ritual? Are you doing them in bed? Do you do them at your desk?

I don’t do them in bed. Or I do it there, in that chair, there [pointing to a large leather chair], or I do it in my library, where I have a so-called writing chair. This is a large rocking chair. And I rely on my book Morning Pages on one side and Lily on the other [gesturing to the dog].

And will you ever go back and read them?

I do not. I take guidance when I say, “What should I do x? ” And I’m listening. I go back and re-read, which is kind of reassuring and clear, and hopefully less neurotic.

What was the last thing you asked for guidance?

How to have fun.

What did the pages show?

They said we would like each other to have an instant relationship. That we would offer water.

Ah, so you predicted the water. When you ask for “guidance” on these pages, do you ask from your subconscious? This is the answer? Or do you feel like you have another, distinct personality to answer – someone wiser, someone more confident?

I do not want to say that this is my subconscious. He feels it is a kind of benevolent force.

Did you write a lot as a little girl? How was your childhood in terms of creativity?

My father was involved in advertising. He was the executive of Dial Soap. My mother was very creative. He was a poet. He was very aware of nature. He would be attentive to the cardinals, robins, finches. And she had seven children. He would give us projects. Then he pinned the result to the whiteboard in the kitchen. Things like making snowflakes, saying rhymes, drawing. I had a drawing I still remember of a palomino horse as a mountain grew up in the distance. I read equestrian books. I read “Black Beauty”. I read “The Island Stallion Races.”

I feel like a lot of girls who love horses grow up to be writers. I don’t know why this is related.

I think reading all the equestrian books made me write. From this, the writing seemed as riding as possible.

So you started writing poems in high school?

Yes. I had a nun in high school, Sister Julia Clare Green. Encouraged. Then when I got to Georgetown, I went Italian. But it turned out that the entire Italian arm was picked up over the summer. So there was no one who could really teach Italian. And I thought, Well, then I’m going straight to English. But when I went to the English department and said, “I want to be a writer,” they said, “Men are writers. Women are wives. ” That was 1966. So I went to the newspaper and said, “I want to help,” because I was in the newspaper in high school. And they said, Can you bake a cookie?

My God.

So Georgetown did not support the plan to become a writer. They had many rules. Women could not wear pants. The women could not sit on the lawn. He had to get back to college before the curfew ended. There is no public expression of love. When I graduated from college, a boy with whom I went to high school called. He said, “How would you like to work for Washington? Comment? ” He was a copier. And I said, “I write short stories. I don’t want to work for Washington Comment. ” And he said, “Well, that’s four hours a day and sixty-seven dollars a week.” So I’m gone.

Is that when you started publishing in the newspaper?

Yes. A man named William McPherson offered me a job as a book reviewer. But there was the boy I went to high school with, peeking over my shoulder and saying I had picked the letters badly. And I told him to go to hell! And he went to the Editor of the Arts column about it. The editor came up to me and said, “In Washington Comment, we are not telling people to go to hell. ” And so I resigned. I think that boy was jealous of me for publishing pieces in the Style section. So I went back to writing the short stories. And I got a phone call that said, “I’m an editor at the company Rolling stone. I read you in the Style section. Do you want to write to us? ”

You remember the first one Rolling stone task?

Yes, you had to write about E. Howard Hunt’s children. You know, Watergate. I said, “I don’t think I want to do this.” And they said, “Well, try it.” So I found their house. I drove it out. It became a cover story. It was entered Time magazine. William F. Buckley [Jr.] he called and said, “You are a disaster.”

That’s when you know you’re doing something right.

And I felt that I did something right. Then I became known as a hot writer. And that’s why I wrote Village Voice. My passport has been stamped in many proper places.

Have you ever written for that? Noble?

No. Noble he called and he wanted me to write about overnight adventures, and that’s not my story.

And did you have many contemporaries at the time, women who were also writers that you felt were your peers?

I was friends with a writer named Judy Bachrach you may know. And Judy did pretty much everything, and I was an outsider. I never got the security of a full-time job. That is still true. My books are spec.

Wow. Still? Not on a proposal?

Yes. I write the whole book and then try to sell it.

You were part of the New Journalist crowd. So there’s Nora Ephron, there’s Joan Didion, there’s Tom Wolfe, and these people write. Did you go to parties?


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