FEATURE - October 2015 - Santa Fe
A Personal and Philosophical Chat with Julia Cameron
By Gloria J. Maschmeyer
Julia Cameron is an internationally acclaimed writer and self-proclaimed “Creativity Expert”. She indeed is both. Her best selling book, The Artist’s Way, one of the 40 she has written to date and published in 1992, has sold over four million copies.
The Artist’s Way landed in my hands in what I can only describe as a serendipitous manner. I was vacationing on the Maya Rivera in ‘08 and standing in our rented condo’s little office waiting to ask a question. The clerk was on a long-winded call and I started gazing around. I discovered a shelf of left-behind books and saw The Artist’s Way. I lobbed it down and flipped through its dog-eared, water-stained pages. As a writer, the book immediately peaked my interest. Little did I know at the time that four years later I would move to Santa Fe, Julia’s home, attend one her workshops and interview her for this issue of Evolving Magazine. Serendipitous, fate or law of attraction? D: all of the above.
I met with Julia at a Santa Fe coffee haunt for our chat.
GM: I know in other interviews you’ve been asked the basics about your teachings through the The Artist’s Way. Plus your website, Juliacameronlive.com, provides readers access to what they might want to know about you and your writings. Therefore, I’d like to ask more personal questions. I was wondering, how or why did you become so open about sharing your personal life and its dark moments?
JC: Are you thinking in my memoir Floor Sample? Well, I felt I was on a pedestal as a teacher and people started thinking of me as “Saint Julia” which was not the way I experienced myself. I wanted to step off the pedestal and step into plain view and give people an authentic experience of what the journey has been like. When I wrote Floor Sample, I decided I was going to be authentically autobiographical which meant including my divorce and my nervous breakdowns. I was determined to paint a true picture. Interestingly enough, the book was loved by readers but was hated by critics who were angry that I had demystified the persona.
GM: I’m curious, how did you put what others think of you aside and become comfortable in your own skin?
JC: Can I say it’s an ongoing process? I think as long as I’m authentic that I’m on the right track. It’s a constant quest to be real and to allow people to learn from the example. So I wouldn’t say that I don’t care about what others think, because that is putting me in an inhuman position. But I care to put forward what I believe to be true and then let the chips fall where they may.
GM: On the subject of mysticism, you co-wrote with your creative colleague, Emma Lively, a musical set in 1938 entitled The Medium at Large that premièred in 2008. Do you believe in mediums?
JC: Yes, I do believe in mediums. I believe that we can make contact with people who have passed on. I do believe that my friends who have died still have a helping hand and give me guidance and nudge me in the right direction. I had a director friend named John Newland (1917 to 2000). John directed my first musical Avalon, and he directed Four Roses that may go up in Albuquerque in February. He just believed in me as an artist. So when I’m thinking, “What should I do next?” I think, “What would John have me do next? What would I be bold enough to try if I had John’s support?” And I try that.
GM: If you could advise the human race of one thing, what would it be?”
JC: Well this is where I come to Morning Pages (Julia’s free writing exercise from The Artist’s Way). I feel I have been valuable, because I teach people to write. When they write they get in contact with an inner resource that some people call God, the muse, the force, or the Tao. There are many different names for it…At this point I have a fantasy that I am dead and at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter asks, “What have you done that we should let you in?” And I say, “Well, I taught people to write.” And he says, “Come in.”
GM: That’s an excellent exercise to determining ones purpose in life, because many people like myself believe there is a purpose to our lives and we are in search of it.
JC: Yes, I think so too.
GM: Given the October theme for Evolving Magazine is the law of attraction and energy, do have any thoughts on either subject?
JC: Again this is when I say write Morning Pages, as you will be led into synchronicity. And I do believe that synchronicity is a fact. As we become clearer and more focused, we tend to attract that which we desire. This is certainly the case with my play Romance in the DMZ that opened (August 7th) in Albuquerque. I wrote two new plays last winter and a couple of months later my Morning Pages said get in touch with Vivien and ask her what you should do with your plays. Vivien Nesbitt is a producer friend who owns the SOL Academy in Albuquerque. I sent her the two plays. She called me up and said, “Why don’t you come down to Albuquerque and have lunch with me”. So I went. At lunch, she said, “The acting academy has just acquired a performance space. Would you like to see it?” I said “Oh sure”. When we walked into the bare empty room, I said “ It’s perfect for Love in the DMZ.” She replied, “Oh I was hoping you’d say that.” To me this is the perfect example of synchronicity. I happened to send her my plays the week she happened to get the performance place.
GM: That’s a great example of the law of attraction. I do appreciate your openness in sharing with me. Thank you for your time Julia.
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Gloria J. Maschmeyer is an author and freelance writer. Her works have appeared in a variety of media, both nationally and internationally. Since moving from Alaska to Santa Fe in 2012, she now steeps herself in her favorite subject, mysticism.