In her memoir, “Floor Sample,” printed in 2006, Ms. Cameron recounts the brutality of Hollywood, of her life there as a screenwriter and a drunk. Pauline Kael, she writes, described her as a “pornographic Victorian valentine, like a young Angela Lansbury.” Don’t marry her for tax causes, Ms. Kael warns Mr. Scorsese. Andy Warhol, who escorts her to the premiere of “New York, New York,” inscribes her into his diary as a “lush.” A cocaine seller soothes her — “You have a tiny little wife’s habit” — and a health care provider shoos her away from his hospital when she asks for assist, telling her she’s no alcoholic, only a “sensitive young woman.” She goes into labor in full make-up and a Chinese dressing robe, vowing to be “no trouble.”
“I think it’s fair to say that drinking and drugs stopped looking like a path to success,” she stated. “So I luckily stopped. I had a couple of sober friends and they said, ‘Try and let the higher power write through you.’ And I said, What if he doesn’t want to?’ They said, ‘Just try it.’”
So she did. She wrote novels and screenplays. She wrote poems and musicals. She wasn’t at all times nicely-reviewed, however she took the knocks with typical grit, and he or she schooled others to take action as nicely. “I have unblocked poets, lawyers and painters,” she stated. She taught her instruments in residing rooms and lecture rooms — “if someone was dumb enough to lend us one,” she stated — and again in New York, on the Feminist Art Institute. Over the years, she refined her instruments, typed them up, and offered Xeroxed copies in native bookstores for $20. It was her second husband, Mark Bryan, a author, who needled her into making the pages into a correct guide.
The first printing was about 9,000 copies, stated Joel Fotinos, previously the writer at Tarcher/Penguin, which printed the guide in 1992. There was concern that it wouldn’t promote. “Part of the reason,” Mr. Fotinos stated, “was that this was a book that wasn’t like anything else. We didn’t know where to put it on the shelves — did it go in religion or self-help? Eventually there was a category called ‘creativity,’ and ‘The Artist’s Way’ launched it.” Now an editorial director at St. Martin’s Press, Mr. Fotinos stated he’s deluged with pitches from authors claiming they’ve written “the new Artist’s Way.”
“But for Julia, creativity was a tool for survival,” he stated. “It was literally her medicine and that’s why the book is so authentic, and resonates with so many people.”
“I am my tool kits,” Ms. Cameron stated.
And, certainly, “The Artist’s Way” is full of instruments: worksheets to be full of ideas about cash, childhood video games, outdated hurts; want lists and workout routines, many of which appear exhaustive and exhausting — “Write down any resistance, angers and fears,” e.g. — and others which are extra sensible: “Take a 20 minutes walk,” “Mend any mending” and “repot any pinched and languishing plants.” It anticipates the work of the indefatigable Gretchen Rubin, the happiness maven, if Ms. Rubin had been a bit kinder however much less Type-A.