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Ann vs. Fear: The Fight for Authentic Living

In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron discusses Shadow Artists. These are people who have a deep-seated desire to be an artist—a painter, poet, actress, singer, etc.—but who are so blocked by fear or firmly planted negative messages that they never bring that desire up and out. They prefer instead to bask in the company of Authentic Artists—people who are fully engaged in making art.

For a long time I was a shadow artist living a shadow life. Afraid to fully engage in my art even though God had sent me a strong message to step out on faith and do so. Oh, I talked myself into thinking that I could do both—work full-time jobs that I hated and write in the evenings/weekends. But that’s all it was
—foolish talk and foolish thinking.

Then one day I had no choice. Well, let me restate that. We always have a choice. My choices were to continue living as a shadow artist with a shadow life or live authentically as an authentic artist. For me, I had reached such an unhealthy level of unhappiness and dissatisfaction that there really was no choice. I resigned from shadow living and swore I would never go back to the shadows.

So far that has been the case but I tell you…it hasn’t been easy because of fear. Fear is a powerful emotion, as powerful as love. Fear is what kept me operating as a shadow artist for so long. I was afraid of having no money. I was afraid my quality of life would degrade. I was afraid my talents weren’t good enough to sustain me. But to live an authentic life, I knew I was going to have to step into the ring and fight fear. So I did. It was September 2010. Here’s the blow-by-blow…

I had finished a freelance assignment in August (2010) but the jerk client refused to pay me (that’s another story). I had maybe $10 in my checking account and another $25 in my savings. My mortgage and car payments were several months behind, all of the utilities were due, and I had received more rejections for my novel. Thus burdened, what did I do? I went to bed. I just couldn’t face fear or the future so I went to sleep, hoping to never wake up. Just before drifting off, I had enough sense to ask God for help.

Before I woke fully the next morning, a thought pounded in my head: Go to your safe. Dig out your savings bonds and cash them in. I had forgotten all about the savings bonds I had purchased over the years! Needless to say, I broke all speed limits driving to the bank, and after cashing in the bonds I had enough to keep the utilities going, purchase gas and groceries, and have cash on hand until my unemployment checks kicked in.

When I returned home, I received a prompting from Spirit to call the finance company that held the note on my car. With butterflies in my stomach, I dialed them up and they were so nice, granting me a two-month deferment. A month later when I should have been evicted from my home, I received a letter from my mortgage company and HUD (Housing and Urban Development) stating the Obama administration had called a halt to all foreclosures, and oh by the way, there’s a program you qualify for where HUD will pay the bulk of your mortgage for two years.

But that’s not all…sixteen months later, I sold the novel I had been trying to sell since 2000.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! The winner is: Ann.

I won that particular fight against fear, but the battle is never over. Every day I face fear and every day I rely on prayer, journaling and the prompting of Spirit to stare it down and come out swinging. This I do so that I may continue to live an authentic life as an authentic artist.

I ask you … Are you bound in shadow living? If so, what deep-seated fear(s) has beaten you? Are you ready to face that fear and live authentically?

Women’s History Month – Simone’s Influence

Simone da Costa
Simone da Costa
Creative Writer, Author, and Journalist

When Ann first asked me to be a part of an initiative she was concocting, a big smile swept across my face and lingered there for several seconds. Little did she know that I was elated at the thought of being considered for her project, an undertaking to recognize women writers as it is Women’s History Month in America.

There are a few great women writers who have helped influence my writing style, ones such as Mary Monroe, Philippa Gregory and Jane Austen, but mostly American novelist, editor and professor, Chloe Anthony Wofford who goes by the pen name of Toni Morrison.

I first came across Ms. Morrison’s epic work, The Bluest Eye let’s say in my late high school years, long ago. My first thought was wow, such rich detail of her characters and the brazen realism so meticulously ironed out. I speculate that Ms. Morrison purposely did not want to leave anything out. She had a story to tell and she would be damned if she did not tell it the way she saw fitting and she did just that.

With reading just a few words from her books she held my gaze, captured my eyes, moving from side–to-side, scurrying to get to the next page while my willing fingers worked in partnership with my eyes that somehow said to them, “Hurry, turn the page.” Her off-putting words commanded my attention; I became defenseless and I had to read on. I kept reading, though at times I might have tried to stop. Unaware of the grasp her words had, that her words had already won me over, I did not even know it until my scampering eyes told my willing fingers again to, “Hurry, turn the page” until I finished the book.

As a young writer, I am always growing and learning, and over the years I have come into my own style of inscription in that I believe in not only creating a good story for entertainment or amusement purposes, but also to unmask its true essence and make it believable. Whether it is fiction, non-fiction, romance or literature, I want to create and capture a world like no other.

Ms. Morrison has helped to shape my writing style because she has an innate boldness to stylistically write without fear, a fearlessness that surpasses all writing boundaries and communication barriers that some writers may be too weak or too afraid to try. Ms. Morrison has said, “I am sometimes frightened of what I write, but I can’t look away. I will not look away. That’s the one place where I’m going to, you know, make eye contact. It’s a free place for me. It’s not always safe, but that’s the one place where all my little vulnerabilities, and cowardice, cannot come to the surface.” http://www.empirezine.com. So, you see, if the stroke of Ms. Morrison’s pen can inscribe with such spirit, I one day hope to be able to do the same, of course in my own way.

The Bluest Eye
A Novel by Toni Morrison

Women’s History Month – Kate’s Influence

Meet Kate Policani – Author, Writer, Blogger, Journalist and More

Kate Policani

In the spirit of Women’s History Month, I asked Kate to share a little something about the woman writer who influenced her most, and below is her offering. Fascinating! Read on…

“When considering my favorite women authors, Jane Austen is the first name that comes to mind and one of my favorite authors of all time. She is a classic author holding the status of a staple of English literature. But her writing means more to me than just classics that we all read and metaphorically dissect in high school English class. Her books, and not just the ones made into movies, provided me with a wealth lacking in my culture.

Austen’s work has a wealth of culture. When I first read them in my teen years they supplied me with rich, mature subjects at a time when I was surrounded by shallow media. The stories brim with dynamic relationships and overflow with emotional intelligence. I loved, and still love, the simplicity coupled with the complexity of life. They were the opposites of my full, loud, busy life with scant substance.

My love for Austen’s books and the modesty of the period spurred me to seek other authors from her era. Bronte, Burney, and others provided me with entertaining stories as well as insight into my own culture’s downfalls and virtues. I lived in a culture where I had to cling to and protect my own innocence from intruding media filled with pornography and violence. It seems life is more violent and explicit now, at least in public, than it was through their eyes.

Austen and her contemporaries struggled with life as second-class beings, dependent on their fathers and husbands for freedoms most of us take for granted these days. Their culture was very different but their desires were the same: to be loved, to be respected, to protect those they loved, and to succeed in life. All this, Austen conveyed through story and character in a way that brought the struggles to life. As women who can own property, can be educated equally with men, and can make legal decisions ourselves, we can learn a lot from Austen’s work about strength and resourcefulness. We can remember that the freedoms we have aren’t something that women have always enjoyed, and we can be grateful to those who won those freedoms for us.”

Thank you Kate for sharing your thoughts about the woman writer who influenced you. You are not alone; there are many Jane Austen fans, and isn’t it wonderful to know that even generations later, she is still shaping lives with her masterfully crafted words.

To learn more about Kate’s wonderful collection of books and writings (and purchase a copy or two), visit her at:
Kate Policani.com
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Twitter
Goodreads

Encountering the Written Word

Words, writing, and books….these are topics I can talk about for hours, and typically do with a friend who is as into these topics as I am. Recently, this friend and I were talking, trying to determine if we could live one day without encountering the written word. Not necessarily in book format but in any form. We decided we couldn’t but to help us reach that decision, we walked through a “normal” day. Below is a sample of a normal day for me and as you’ll see, I could not avoid the written word all day (of course this makes me happy).

A Normal Day:
I wake up and start journaling my dreams and thoughts. Words. Before I finish journaling, I want coffee. So off I stumble to the kitchen to make a few cups. Since I’m a coffeeholic, there’s no bumping into written words since there’s no need to read directions. All that’s required is action (an aspect of writing that we’ll leave for another day) and barely any thought.

Resettled in my favorite chair, the bed or the sofa, I sip coffee, finish journaling (is one ever finished journaling?) and decide to catch the morning news as I wait for my computer to boot up. Turning to a local channel, I see words on the screen. Did you catch that? …words on the screen.

My cell phone dings and by the sound I know it’s an incoming email—words. I turn off the TV and turn toward the computer to check email and then write, write, write. Nothing but words. (Okay, so maybe that’s cheating since I am a writer and that’s what I do most days.)

Some hours later, it’s errand-running time. I turn off the computer and dash out of the house. Again no words, but lots of action. As I’m running errands, I read billboards, road signs, traffic alerts, etc. Words, words, with a few numbers thrown in (yuck to numbers!). I sign my receipt at the grocery store (one of my errands) and see enticing words offering me a percentage off of this, a percentage off of that, words and numbers (yuck to numbers!).

Back at home, I settle back into my work, writing, which is not work at all except when it comes to editing (yuck to editing!). My stomach growls and it’s getting dusky outdoors so I know it’s time for dinner. But it’s also time to exercise so I grab a quick snack and off I rush to the gym or track. No written words required. Just action and sweat. In an hour, I am back home and seriously scouring the fridge for a real meal. I throw one together which does not require written words except when I decide to try a new recipe, then it would be an encounter with written words. But trust me, that doesn’t happen often. I try to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen.

To end the day, I watch TV–no words unless I accidentally hit the subtitle button or view certain commercials such as those featuring class action law suits against drug companies or Meow Mix or the starving artist art show. Finally, after the evening news, it’s time to read myself to sleep–words, words, and more words. Hmmm…are there words in my dreams?

What about you? Can you make it through a “normal” day without encountering any written words? If so, how in the heck did you do that?