Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
– Debated origin; attributed to Goethe
Prompt: What do you strive to attract to yourself? What actions have you taken to bring this into manifest form? How does this quality of magnetism inform your spiritual and mundane life?
Two years ago I embarked on an Artist’s Way journey with a group from my UU church. The Artist’s Way is a book by Julia Cameron that’s intended to guide anyone on a path to recover creativity that they feel they’ve buried, neglected, or otherwise lost. At the time I was feeling very much like the “stuck creative” that Julia describes. I had spent several years plunged into grad school and career and ultimately found myself losing my connection with what had for my whole life been my greatest earthly passion- writing.
I say all this because for me it relates very much to this week’s topic- the quality of magnetism and what you attract to yourself. One of the things Julia talks a lot about in her book is the concept of synchronicity. Synchronicity is basically the universe’s way of helping you out when you commit your energy to something. I think of it kind of like the universe responding to a vibration you put out. It’s like Goethe’s quote above, or to quote some pop philosophy, “If you build it, they will come.”
So as I said, I was going through this process of creative recovery- it was both exciting and painful, and it still is. It started with daily journaling, and then making time for myself- free time, time to play or create or dream. I started doing things that appealed to my inner child- things like pottery, which to me is just a more refined way of playing in the dirt. I also started taking piano lessons again after about a 15-year hiatus. And then I got some ideas. And I wanted to write them.
The biggest idea, and the one I was most passionate about, was for a TV show set in the 1930s Mississippi Delta, about a young blues musician struggling to make a name for himself while taking care of his sister and widowed mother and working on the family farm. This was a story that practically wrote itself as soon as it came into my head, and of course the soundtrack- all those great early country blues songs- were built in. There was only one problem- I didn’t know how to write a screenplay. I had never done any screenwriting, had never even read a script.
This daunted me for a while, but I felt like the story would not leave me alone, and so eventually I just started to write. Since I didn’t know how to write proper screenplay format I just wrote out how I saw things in my head. I figured the story was the most important thing, and I would figure out the rest as I went along.
It was amazing how opening myself up even a little bit to this calling transformed things. Literally the day that I finally sat down and started to write, I looked up the tour schedule of one of my favorite contemporary acoustic blues musicians who plays the old style of blues that inspired my show. When I searched I immediately found out that he was playing in DC that very night. I took this as a sign. I changed my plans and went to the show. I ended up meeting the musician I admired before his set. As we talked, he asked me, without provocation, “Do you work in television?” I was astounded. I told him I didn’t but that I had just started writing a show that centered on blues music. He gave me his email and offered to help me if he could.
Other things started happening. A former student of a friend of a colleague- many steps removed!- got a hold of my email and contacted me for career advice in international affairs. When I met up with him I found out that his wife was a TV writer! This did a lot to allay my doubts about whether it was even possible to write TV while living in Washington, D.C. My awesome friend Leah, a New York City-based comedy writer, told me about opportunities for amateur screenwriters, including a number of competitions anyone can submit their screenplay to.
I kept writing. I got feedback. I wrote more. I took two screenwriting workshops and a TV writing class. Finally, earlier this Spring, about a year after I had started working on my TV pilot, I submitted the script to a few contests. I’m still waiting to hear back on my results from all of them, but one just sent me my judge feedback over the weekend, the first professional feedback I’ve received. And…it’s good! I don’t know what my results will ultimately be, and there will certainly continue to be ups and downs, but I feel like I went from zero screenwriting knowledge to writing a script, a solid script, with a story I’m passionate about. And those moments of synchronicity, moments when I met musicians who inspired my story or met people in television or stumbled across opportunities to learn the craft of screenwriting, kept me going when I felt things were hard and I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I recently started on my second TV pilot script- this one is set in medieval Europe.
With my experience of coming back to writing, I’ve felt the power and magic of synchronicity, of all the forces of the universe that are crossing their fingers you’ll follow your true path helping you out once you start on it. And I think that the way to manifest these things in your life is just to be yourself, to listen to your inner calling and the calling of the universe, and to let magic happen.