I didn’t realise when I wrote The Love Project that the book isn’t about finding love.
I had been miserably single for over six years and I thought that having a man in my life would fill the gap I had inside of me since as far I could remember. I focused all my energy into meeting a guy and dated ferociously for almost nine months without success. I met my husband just as I had accepted that maybe the love of a man wasn’t for me. Just as I had just realised that, even though I couldn’t control finding love, what I could control was allowing myself to answer the call of my soul, who had been wanting me to write (and been denied) for over three decades. Meeting him wasn’t the result of those nine months of ferociously dating. Meeting him was nothing but the consequence of the fact that I had finally allowed myself to pursue my desire to write.
When I met Alistair I had just finished Julia Cameron’s creative recovery programme The Artist’s Way. As a newbie writer, I thought that was it – job done. Twelve weeks of creative recovery and I met the man. Two years and three writing retreats and I wrote a book about finding the man. It had never occurred to me that a lifetime of self-abuse and denied creativity would need a bit more than that. When, four years after conducting The Love Project and writing what I still believe it to be an accomplished book, nobody had yet expressed interest in publishing it, I entered a massive creative crisis. I stopped looking after myself creatively. I put all my energy into anything but writing. What was there to write about? I didn’t believe in the story anymore. A dating book is so dated, I thought. By now they’d invented actually terms for the situations I was describing, like ‘ghosting’ and ‘bread-crumbing’. Everyone is now on a dating app and Tinder is the norm. I had to admit that my book was no longer relevant, no longer riding the zeitgeist wave. And, if I was completely honest with myself, it never had. I knew that when, during attempts of portraying myself as a dating expert to help generate interest in my book, I very quickly saw myself as a fraud and pulled back. But I still didn’t know at the time what my book was about if it wasn’t about dating. Maybe it wasn’t about anything worth writing about, I thought. Soon, I lost excitement about my own work and stopped talking about it completely. My unpublished, unread, unloved book sat with me like an unclosed wound and I was determined to ignore it.
Recently, with working without a break for over a year, the stress of the pound dropping and waiting for a date to move to France, I realised I was sinking into depression. I found myself crying and fighting a lot, be it at home or at work. I found myself in the spiritual condition of desperation, unable to see a bright future anymore, despite the fact that my husband and I are actually moving to a beautiful farmhouse in the South of France for a complete lifestyle change. Really, I ought to be ecstatic about it, but I wasn’t.
It was time for an emergency intervention so I picked up The Artist’s Way again. I began reading and it felt like reading it for the very first time. Oh, the pain and the grief that invaded me when I recognised myself a shadow artist again. When I recognised myself as self-abusive again. When recognised myself as blocked artist again, all of my own doing. But also the relief to realise that creativity is, always was, and forever will be, the key to my wholesome and healthy living, just like I realised it four years ago, when both art and love walked together into my life.
I do believe that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps I was meant to go through a creative emergency again to recognise that I wrote a book that wasn’t as much about finding love, as it was about allowing creativity, the principal source that attracts everything else good in my life. Perhaps I had sold the book to the world in the wrong light. Perhaps what the world needs is not another dating book, but a book for all the creatives anonymous out there, who need to listen to the whispers of their soul that wants them to go create.