JULIA CAMERON #5
[This transcript is excerpted from an Art of the Song interview as broadcast nationally on Public Radio. Click here to listen to the complete show with music.]
Viv: You’re also a musician. A recalcitrant musician.
Julia: So this is a story about morning pages. I was writing morning pages, which I had been doing for fifteen years, and I suddenly wrote in my pages, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to write a musical about Merlin?” And I thought, if I were the least bit musical, I would know it, I’m forty-five years old and I definitely am a non-musician. I had grown up in a very musical family. We had two pianos in our house. My brothers are both professional musicians and I was brought up to believe that I wasn’t musical. So I wrote in my morning pages, “You will be writing radiant songs”. And I thought “Ohhhhhhhhhh, if I were going to be writing radiant songs, I would know it.”
Viv: “You think I would have done that by now.”
Julia: So there I was, up in Boulder, recording again. I was staying with a girlfriend and I said, “My morning pages keep saying I’m going to be writing radiant songs. I don’t believe them.” But I knew to believe them. And she said, “Well, why don’t you just go down and sit by the creek and think about it.” So I went down by this little Rocky Mountain creek, and I sat on a boulder and all of the sudden I heard (singing), “My green heart is filled with apples. Your dark face is filled with stars. I am the one that you’ve forgotten. You are the one my heart desires. So dance when you think of me. Sing to remember me. Sing till your heart can see who we are. Dance when you think of me. Sing to remember me. Sing till your heart can see who we are.” And I thought, “I think it’s a radiant song.” I went racing back up the hill and sang it to my girlfriend who had a little RadioShack tape recorder and she sort of shoved the tape recorder in my face and said, “Sing it to this.” And that’s my story of becoming a songwriter. And I’ve been writing songs ever since. And it’s ten years now, I have had two musicals produced. I have worked with a woman named Emma Lively. I’m friends with a woman named Sonia Choquette. She’s a psychic, and she’s written eight books. And we’ve been friends for twenty years. And when I started writing the music, I found that I thought that it sounded sort of rudimentary and needed fleshing out. I had sort of desperate feeling of, “Oh it’ll never be good enough,” She said, “You will meet a woman, and she will fill it out and help you.” So, when I met Emma, I said, “Is it Emma?” And Sonia said, “Yes, this is the woman that I saw.” So Emma composed the harmonies. We worked together very happily.
Viv: With Art of the Song, this is very funny, because with Art of the Song we always ask, “Do you think that everyone is creative? And, if someone came to you asking what they should do to find their creative voice, what would you tell them?” But you’ve written a whole book and four million people have read it.
Julia: If someone came to me and said, “I’m blocked” or “I’m not creative at all”. I would say, “I want you to try writing three pages of long-hand morning writing every morning when you get up. Then we’ll rendezvous a little bit later and see if you don’t think you’re creative.” I should mention that sometimes I’m awed by the people that I have apparently helped. I remember when I met Freebo, he said to me, “I’m an Artist’s Way person. I want to do a solo album and I had the courage to do it because of doing Artist’s Way work.” Of course now he has a wonderful solo career. I had another note from a musician whom I love, Pete Townsend, who wrote a book, an autobiography, of his creative journey and, in it, he talks about working the Artist’s Way, and that giving him the impetus to go further and in different directions. I don’t normally talk about who’s who, who’s done it but it feels sort of thrilling. I had an actor say to me, “I used your tools and now I’ve directed my first feature.” So I feel like the tools work for accomplished artists and they work for what you might want to think of as amateur artists. They give you a sense that you have the right to create.
Viv: Julia Cameron thank you so much for talking with us today for Art of the Song.
Julia: You’re Welcome.
Word Count: 307