This is a guest blog post from Cat Bennett author of The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind.
The Road to Yes
I’m a veteran writer of sorts. I’ve been writing all my life—journal entries, essays, stories. But I’ve always made my living as an artist, primarily as an illustrator. Now I’m a newly published writer, the author of The Confident Creative / Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind. Findhorn Press is my publisher and the day I received a yes from them was indeed a happy one. I remember reading once that getting a book published doesn’t really change your life, so writers shouldn’t hope for that. Published writers still get out of bed in the morning and do the things they do. Their bank accounts rarely burst at the seams from newly minted millions. It’s true my life is much as it was a year ago before my book was published. But it’s also radically changed—I feel a new freedom.
Before I was published, I viewed publication as something difficult, even nerve-wracking, like taking the stairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It seemed daunting. Like J. Alfred Prufrock, I wondered—”Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?” In T. S. Elliot’s poem, we meet a man besotted by doubts. We all have do-I-dare areas of our lives. We’re human. Those areas can slow us down.
Of course, temerity can be amplified by the rejections we all receive. Often, I sent things to only a handful of publishers. Their rejections stopped me in my tracks. I assumed an unsigned, xeroxed form letter was a thoughtful response to weeks, even months, of work. Sometimes these notes had been xeroxed so many times it was hard to read them but that did not stop me from taking them to heart. Who had written them, I wonder now. And who had stuffed them into the stamped self-addressed envelope I’d provided? I must work harder, I would think—or perhaps I’d not yet found my forté. In my youth, I wrote stories but none compared to Huckleberry Finn and the wondrous world created by Mark Twain. In my young mind, Mark Twain possessed super powers. It’s thinking such powers exist outside of ourselves that can make the road to publishing longer than it might be.
So, here’s what’s changed since my book came out—I’m laughing where once I moaned. And, yeah, it is at myself! But I also know that I gained strength also by finding courage again after disappointment, by honing my skills and becoming ever clearer about my deepest goals. Those are the gifts of time.
In my book, I talk about how drawing can be a tool to bring us to a place of confidence. Drawing doesn’t have to be about the product or getting things right. It’s about showing up and letting go of judgments so that we can be in the place of exploration and presence, one with the moment and with ourselves. It’s finding the power and the freedom and the peace within so we know we can create our lives and our world too.
The road to creative freedom or to publication needn’t be long. We can write or draw a hundred things. And we can send things out over and over, until they find the home they are meant for. We can toss xeroxed rejections slips in the bin! Be the road to publishing long or short, we can dive into our next creative project, into what takes us to a higher place. It’s the place of creative confidence J. Alfred Prufrock never found. But then, he wasn’t a writer.
Cat Bennett is leading creativity retreat at Dragon Hall, Covent Garden, London on September 25-26th. You’ll find details on her website!