Friday, September 11, 2009

The Good in Creative Clusters



I'm getting together with two friends today who are also poets to discuss our manuscripts.

All three of us have been finalists in recent contests, so a few weeks ago we decided to exchange manuscripts to talk about how we could improve our manuscripts and if there was anything missing from it.

I'm a very strong believer in looking at one's manuscript to figure out what's missing, what poems need to be written for it to be complete instead of doing the opposite of putting all your poems together and taking out the ones that don't fit as well or aren't as strong.

I'm interested to hear what they have to say about manuscript. I feel I am way too close to it to see or know what's good and bad anymore. It goes back to Tim Gunn's monkey house quote from Project Runway--

Chris, from Project Runway: "Check out my fur-inspired line of clothing, it's covered in human hair!"

Tim Gunn (politely gagging): "I have this refrain about the monkey house at the zoo. When you first enter into the monkey house, you think, ‘Oh my god this place stinks!’ And then after you’re there for 20 minutes you think, ‘it’s not so bad’ and after you’re there for an hour it doesn’t smell at all. And anyone entering the monkey house freshly thinks, ‘this stinks!’ You've been living in the monkey house."


It's basically my biggest fear to think I'm doing something incredible and artistic when really I smell like poop.

But back to getting together... If you've ever read the Artist Way you'll know that Julia Cameron talks a lot about creative clusters. These are your artist friends you draw positive energy from. They are the circles of people you surround yourself with (hopefully people who bring you up and aren't wet blankets...if they are, there's a chapter on what to do about the wet blankets and crazymakers in your life).

Julia believes that success happens in clusters, that there is no need to feel envious when someone in your group has something good happen to them as it just means something good will be coming your way as well.

It's kind of woo-woo, new agey stuff, but I do believe that energy can be pulled to a certain group working together. And what's the alternative? Be ridiculously jealous when something good happens to someone and wish that is was you. That will put your internal organs in a twist.

There's enough good, publication opportunities, awards, book prizes, kudos, satisfaction for everyone. No one needs to feel as if they are going to be left out. There's room in the party for everyone.


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