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April 2000

We hope to see you at our next celebration

Sunday April 2
3-9 PM
Bob & Seiko Olson’s home

Art Sharing: Sunday March 5, 2000

Bruce Taylor read his story “The Master Goes Whacko” from his new book Kafka’s Uncle and Other Strange Stories and played a video of creative independent cartoons. Bob Olson read Chapter 10 - “Would You Believe?” from his new book I Remember Christmas, and a short story - “I’m a Boy Who Doesn’t Dance”. Carl Sloan displayed two of his colorful sandwiched photographic art pieces for name suggestions. Mike Pryor read his story “Kill All the Elves”. Steven Cox read from his book The Shroud of Turin. Ben Miller presented more on his Pantarbe.com web site. (Our April meeting is scheduled to start at 3:00 PM so that we can all visit Ben’s web site on Bob’s computer.) Pippin Sardo displayed her Seattle mermaid costume and described its presentation. Larry Lewis shared his graphic and cartoon portfolio. Janna Silverstein read her poetry - “To Alafia Redhead”, “Western Lowland Gorilla”, “Inshallah”, “Voyeur” and “More Permanent than Watercolor”. Lida Sloan and Peter Wagener provided an appreciative audience.

Bruce Taylor’s Editorial:

This issue’s editorial is courtesy of Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal, page 211, “Week Eleven: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy”:

As long as we allow our self-worth to be dependent on someone else’s evaluation-the fat paycheck, the one-man show, the New Yorker short-story sale-we are depriving ourselves of our own dignity and our own autonomy. Art is a process, not a product.

“But, Julia, I’m not making any money at my art,” you may protest. “Real artists make a living off their art!”

Hooey. Tell that to Gauguin, Van Gogh, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson….Stop looking at the marketplace and start looking at the gains you have made in practicing your art. Please be gentle with yourself. A sense of self-tenderness allows the artist-child increased freedom to explore. Art flourishes in an atmosphere of self-acceptance. It is up to each of us to establish this atmosphere for ourselves. That is true autonomy.

We need to divorce our value as artists from the cash flow our art generates. In our society, this is not an easy thing to do. Even when we read about other artists, the news “hook” tends to be monetary: the $800,000 novel advance, the $3.5 million screenplay, the $12 million salary for acting in a film.

Although many of us do make money at it, creativity is its own reward. Too often, contemplating a new piece of work, we think, “Where will this get me?”

We want a cash-on-the-barrelhead, linear response, but creativity doesn’t work that way. Very often it is the stray tendril, the curious wisp of a trail that leads us into new creative growth. Creativity moves in spurts, bursts, spirals. Today’s “dead end” may be necessary to tomorrow’s breakthrough.

To lead autonomous lives, we must engage in following our creative impulses freely, not second-guessing them, not ruling out the oddball urge that doesn’t seem to “go anywhere.”

“Anywhere” must come to be defined as “Anywhere I’d like to go.”

Remember: Art equals all real things.

Thank you Julia Cameron. I couldn’t have said it better myself. And in various ways, it’s what I’ve been saying all along. But given the society we live in, it almost sounds like heresy -- success doesn’t mean money?! More often than not, no. Money comes as a by-product of living a life that is meaningful to you, hence, brings you joy. And if your life isn’t moving you toward joy, then beware what you are moving toward.

Other Stuff:

Todd Christoffel, leader of the music group don’t ask, has some concerts lined up. You can catch him performing new songs, as well as songs from his CD, There’s a Monkey In My Grape. The schedule is: March 17, at Madison’s, 9 PM, $6.00 cover charge; April 1 at the Honey Bear (Green Lake), 8 to 11 PM, no cover charge; May 13, Fiddler’s Inn, 9 to midnight, don’t know if there is a cover charge; and finally, June 9, Victor’s Coffee House, Redmond. For further information, call Todd at 425-391-9544.

Thank you, thank you to the anonymous donor who gave us $50.00 for the newsletter.

Bruce Taylor will be teaching a class on novel writing at North Seattle Community College Spring Quarter. Call him at 206-323-5483 for details.

Late breaking news…Carl and Lida Sloan will hold their next photographic show March 27 through April 30 in the Honey Bear Bakery and Cafe in the Elliott Bay Bookstore, First and Main in Seattle. Come see just how different their photographs are.

Writing advice from the experts:

“Do something else, like Y-work. Or join a committee. Your business as a writer is not to illustrate virtue, but to show how a fellow may move toward it -- or away from it.”
Robert Penn Warren

“I always begin with a character or characters, and then try to think up as much action for them as possible.”
John Irving

From the Lock-up:

(A feature of selected writing from convicts at Monroe Penitentiary who know Bob Olson and have asked to share in our FOKUS newsletter)


Soulmates are a rarity and
something hard to find
Many of us fall in love, the kind
of love that’s blind.
But when we meet our Soulmate,
there’s something deep within;
that brings two perfect Strangers
to walk life’s path together
once again.

It’s a wisdom from my heart,
and intrinsically deep from
my soul, that brings you this
acumen of mine I really want
you to know

You are my Soulmate, a force way
past within this realm. A
union of powerful love we chose
as God’s creatures to experience
what has always meant to
have been.

To: Dinah Sue From: Wayne Evans 8/9/99
(reprinted with permission from Volume V 2000, Sounds of a Grey Metal Day Creative Expressions Project)

Who We Are:

Michael Pryor is a charter member of FOKUS. He has been active in the group since it started. Michael retired from Boeing last year to seek part-time work so that he could devote more of his time to art. Michael is a writer/story-teller/pianist-songwriter/stand-up comic/entertainer. He puts these varied accomplishments into a Puget Sound satirical act suitable for both adult and child audiences. Some of his characters include: a religious little boy who wears a toilet seat cover for a halo in church, a child from infancy to puberty who discovers the wonderful delight of his fingers and toes, a seductive kitchen appliance, and elves threatening the last old-growth forest in the Northwest.

When asked, “What do you see as the future of art?”, Michael replies, “Art is absolutely necessary for a healthy society because art cannot lie.”

Last updated:  April 29, 2000