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Bestselling Author Patti Callahan Henry on Using Our Creativity as a Compass


Welcome to our Parade.com weekly essay series in partnership with Friends & Fiction, an online community hosted by bestselling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Patti Callahan Henry and Mary Alice Monroe.

Every Wednesday, you’ll get a new life lessons essay from one of the writers, as well as the chance to discuss the themes of it later that night on Facebook Live!

Today, author Patti Callahan Henry talks about the inner pull of creativity and what incredible things can happen when you decide to follow it.

I kept it a secret for a long while. I wrote in the wee hours of the morning. I told a white lie to my friends about where I was going when I attended writing classes. To say, “I want to write a book” felt like saying “I want to be an astronaut.”

And then I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I read about integrating our lives so that our creative lives weren’t separate from our real lives but actually part of it. No duplicity. We are who we are. And we are creative souls. I read it and thought it sounded good and true, but it didn’t apply to me. To admit my dream of becoming an author was a bit too scary. I kept it secret, writing and writing and watching others live my dream. Cameron calls this behavior being a ‘shadow artist’, a term that refers to those of us “afraid to step out of the dark and expose the dream to the light.”