At the beginning of the year, I stumbled into a group working through Julia Cameron’s prolific The Artist’s Way. The premise is that we’re all created to be creative, that along the way our artistic self becomes “blocked” and, through a process of exercises and exploration, we can unleash our underlying creativity, transforming our own life in the process. It’s an involved undertaking, which I tackled in characteristic too-fast-out-of-the-blocks fashion.
I had heard of Cameron’s book but didn’t know much of what it was about when I agreed to commit myself to the group and the process. I’ve found the “Morning Pages” Cameron endorses a cathartic free-form journaling that does serve to unearth our core stumbling blocks and greatest desires in life. I’m recalling previous passions and brainstorming ways I could incorporate these childhood joys into my adult life: writing and playing music, performing elaborate plays, detailed needlework, making bracelets, dancing.
I have to admit I was skeptical at first. Despite being a life-long journaler with a history of a strong spiritual faith, I initially found some of her observations and suggestions new-agey and impractical. What modern professional parent has time to write three pages every morning and take their inner artist on a weekly date? I’ve since come around, appreciating the thematic chapters and exercises, the encouragement and confidence instilled that we are all creative beings, most content and most ourselves when we find ways to weave artistry into our lives.
Starting the year off sharing some great news! I recently received in the mail the Fall 2016 Edition of OUHSC’s Blood and Thunder Journal, which includes two of my essays. I’ve had several pieces published in online journals but there is a special kind of excitement that comes from seeing your name in print on a tangible page. I’m humbled that two of my favorite shorts “Expectant” and “Burst” found a home in this narrative medicine collection.
“Expectant” chronicles the very first delivery I witnessed. Obstetrics was a revelation to me as a young medical student, especially never having had children myself. I was in awe of the entire process and this short essay reveals my own insecurities as I was christened into the world of medicine.
“Burst” is about my first continuity delivery in residency training: a pregnancy meant to be followed throughout all nine months to completion. I was a new physician and had much to learn about the unpredictable nature of obstetrics.
One of my writing goals for 2017 is to make significant progress on a book-length collection of narrative medicine essays. I’m starting the year off taking Creative Nonfiction’s online course “Writing Your Nonfiction Book Proposal”. Finding time to edit and submit my work has been a continual challenge but writing classes provide encouragement and structure to make the time, harness the energy and muster the gumption to keep at it. I’m eager to let go of the draining and perfectionist tendencies of 2016 and write on in 2017. Holding a palpable culmination of my writing efforts is an encouraging way to embark on a new year and I’m grateful.
Due to the holiday week, I’m taking a break from Narrative Medicine Monday and sharing a favorite: River Teeth’s Beautiful Things. This narrative nonfiction journal posts a short piece of prose each Monday, highlighting a different “beautiful thing”. Today’s piece by Jennifer Bowen Hicks, entitled “White” captures a moment between her and her son as she walks him to school on a cold winter morning. I encourage you to check out River Teeth’s complete series; these short pieces never fail to inspire.