I am notorious among friends and
family for reading books three quarters of the way through. My
convenient excuse is that Im involved in so many things
and Ive got myself constantly painted all over the map.
In spite of this, however, there are a few books that currently
keep me warm amid my closest bookshelf. Some Ive even read
cover to cover more than once... and others, well, I just like
the way they feel, as if they sit there smiling at me with gentle
reminders of who I am. A lot of my work examines womens
sexuality and relationships, hopefully within a helpful and uplifting
context, but often from a distinctly female perspective. My hope
is, if I can explore and express the one side clearly enough,
it might build some bridges by finding the center; finding the
common ground in the so-called war between the sexes. More often
than not, for women, sexuality and relationships are accompanied
by a loss of sense of self, or perhaps a hiding of ones
true self. So I read, I create art and I go back and read some
more... always diving in and out of one side of my brain into
another... always searching for answers
for self, but also what is distinctly female about that
Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary
Pipher is a book that uncovered for me some of the reasons why
I do this. I began exploring this topic in much of my poetry and
art within the past few years because my daughter is coming of
age and I wanted to understand it all before she got there. But
also it surfaced because after a long isolation on the fringe
of society where I have felt pleased to be me, I have been coming
home - a prodigal daughter of sorts - to integrate into the real
world. And that world, like it or not, is distinctly patriarchal.
I had joined a true boys club
of writers, one where the boys bully around their ideas as the
only way to write, while debunking anyone who didnt agree
with them or had a different point of view. Like a sheepish wolf
my first reaction was, "My God! Its worse than I thought!
What am I doing here?"
If you couldnt guess, I felt
they didnt understand my woman-centered work and they would
claim that my unstructured approach to writing was barking up
the wrong tree. A classic war between right and left, male and
female. The only problem was, the men didnt seem to think
there was anything wrong with the picture, and I did. I think
they thought the biggest problem was this annoying woman who disrupted
meetings by polarizing the room when she tried to offer a more
right brain, softer, more female possibility
had a tendency to do it with the ferocious side of a female wolf
protecting her cubs, but female nonetheless.
Luckily, I was able to interview
and meet with Linda Seger before I totally lost my mind and cool.
She saved my writers life. I had been a published feature
article writer and had my degree in creative writing; yet still,
these boys had me backed against a wall scrambling to defend my
way of writing. I couldnt keep myself from wondering, Is
it them or is me? Or is it just the set up?
I read Linda Segers, When Women Calls the Shots: The
Development and of power and influence of women in Television
and film, I understood it was indeed the set up. But more
importantly her book gave me not only a sense of where I stood,
but why it was important and valid for me to have a voice once
again. The irony was I was a feminist. I thought I knew that stuff
already. Perhaps not as well as I thought I did
after all these years, still deep in my bones and it didnt
take much to flare up again like an ugly sore, even long after
being painted. But Linda also gave me insights on how I could
work within the system when I was ready, and how to make reasonable
changes without denying myself or anyone else. The key bit of
information, here, of course, was "ready". I wasnt
I would have died to have John Vorhaus
book in my hands during those years with which to wage war, shouting
like an out of control child, "Nah, nah! You stupid idiots!
You love John! Even John knows Im right!"
But its a good thing I waged
war within my own creative process instead. So I have to thank
John for his book, Creativity
Rules! A Writers Workbook. "Timing is everything,
John, thank you. Who knows if you had written it sooner, then
I might not have wigged out enough to need my poetry and art."
then again, I probably would have, because the deep creating will
have its way with you if you let it. And I like to let it. Ill
have to mention Natalie, queen of deep writing in a bit, but first
I must speak of Christopher Vogler. Voglers The Writers
Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers is the consummate
based on Joseph Campbells The Hero With a Thousand Faces.
He will show you how the Lion King follows the structure of Hamlet
from the characters point of view. Now someone is speaking
structure in a language I can understand! Yes. But he also taught
me to see it is those boys at the writers club for who they
were: true characters, true threshold guardians. The ones who
make us stronger as long as we dont beat ourselves up for
no good reason trying to get into their doors.
This leads me to Natalie Goldbergs
and Writing Down The Bones. Either one a must-read
for any writer engaged in the writing process. Let me repeat myself
. If you are writer you owe it to yourself to READ THIS
WOMAN! Okay, enough said. She says it better herself, anyway.
another must-read for any woman, is Jungian psychologist Clarissa
Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With The Wolves. Estes
speaks to the soul of a woman, as she knew she would. I read this
book to the last page, savoring every metaphor and connection
like it feed me something I had been starving for all my life.
It was no mystery to me I had a connection with wolves. I had
had that connection for years, owned a few wolf-hybrids, was constantly
visited by them in dreams. My poem, "She Wolf",
comes directly from a dream, but Estes told me why this happens.
She gave me a way to understand the role the wolf played (and
she does like to play); as well as, a way to embrace her
within my psyche. I am, have always been, at least in this life,
the living She Wolf and she is definitely in my bed.
beds!" An analytical left brain writer might say, "See
how she sets you up for the next book?" Ha, yeah right. Guess
again. This is just how my mind wanders from all the influences
and books, one by one, as they surface to show themselves. Like
a wolf? But back to that bed. My next book I hold dear is,
Passion Play: Ancient Secrets for a Lifetime of Health and Happiness
through Sensational Sex, by Felice Dunas, Ph.D., with Philip
Goldberg. This was the first sex book that Ive read in a
long time I liked. It could, at the same time, satisfy my womans
psyche, my feminists sensitive nerve, my lovers curiosity,
and my fiery passion. I still might argue with the book in a place
or two, as I really do love a good fight, but it embraces the
feminine and masculine within all of us. And so I come full circle,
finding the middle within myself, through my reading, through
my writing, through my art and my relationships.
Of course, these are just a few
of the books of the process, never mind the movies. I love movies,
but I am sitting at the Two Rivers Park outside of Nashville
with my laptop and my feet are getting cold. Im going to
have to leave soon to bring my son to an animation class out at
the wonderful Renaissance Center in Dixon. And, you locals, know,
That is a trek! But check out their website: http://www.rcenter.com
You can take a virtual tour and
maybe decide to take a course. This place marries both sides of
my brain for me without an argument. They find the peace between
right and left, man woman, creative and editor, science and art.
Sometimes I like to bring my drawing pads and sketch people when