Michelle’s story about meeting her creative spirit was so funny and specific that I forgot until this morning that the first time I ran across this exercise it was in a book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way. In all three of her artist’s way books Cameron stresses the importance of the ‘artist’s date’ – in which you take your inner artist (or creative child) out on a date, pay attention to them (her, him, or it), and do something they’d like to do. Because the date is for your inner artist/child/muse (or in Michelle’s case, for Bobo), you go ‘alone’, to make sure you’re paying attention and listening to your creative spirit instead of to a human companion. (Cameron writes that one of her favorite artist dates was a clock store in NYC.)
Lynda Barry, in her book of exercises and thoughts on creativity What It Is, also talks about writing and making visual art, what can stop you, or mess with you, and what can help you get to that place where you’re in touch with … I want to call it primal creativity – which, in Barry’s book of words and pictures sometimes appears as a monkey (the medieval symbol for the artist) and sometimes as a childlike-looking octopus…a wide-eyed blob with legs, swimming in the deep.
From my friend Michelle Lewis Kim, about a suggestion from her writing teacher that put her in touch with a hope-restorer:
the blue stellar blob of Omega Centauri, the largest globular star cluster in the Milky Way
One day when I was talking with my writing teacher about how hard it can be for me to write, she said, “Maybe you need to talk to your creative spirit, find out what it wants to do.” As she was saying this, I felt like someone was floating in the air behind me. I knew right away that he was a blue blob and his name was Bobo. As my writing teacher was saying, “…. you know, see if it wants to go on an outing or something,” Bobo started bobbing up and down, and then zooming in circles around me.
The next morning Bobo picked out my outfit (an orange poofy skirt with sparkly tights, two items I have never put together before), and directed me on how to apply makeup (no eye makeup, and VERY BRIGHT lipstick). Then off we went, to take the bus on an adventure. We ended up in Fremont at a cake shop – yum.
In the bus on the way home I thought about our day, and how much fun I’d had with Bobo, and the way I tend to put my Creative Spirit aside in the name of accomplishment and organization. This train of thought gave me an idea for a children’s book. I wrote it as soon as I got home, with Bobo at my shoulder. (And I’ve roped my fourteen year-old nephew into illustrating it with me, giving me a chance to know him better, too.)