Remember my blog post on becoming bulletproof to negative feedback? Today I share an interview with an author taking it one step further! Camille DeAngelis is a highly compassionate human being. She lives intentionally and uses her writing to make a difference in the world, including teaching other creatives to embrace their journey (and not worry about anyone else’s!).
Interview with Camille DeAngelis
Tell us a little about you.
I’m a novelist and travel writer, but I am polycraftual: I knit, sew, quilt, sketch, and embroider, and I also have quite a good vegan cupcake repertoire, if I do say so myself. I believe in exploring other interests and hobbies, both for their intrinsic pleasures and for how reliably they nourish my writing. I will loudly pooh-pooh anyone who says you have to choose one route to creative fulfillment! I’m also a certified vegan lifestyle coach through Victoria Moran’s Main Street Vegan Academy, and I’m very excited to write about how compassionate eating has super-boosted my creativity. (I’m gathering notes for that book now.).
When and why did you start writing?
As a child I was an enthusiastic writer, gobbling up my third-grade teacher’s writing prompts and making up stories with my sister and cousins as protagonists. Then while I was a student at NYU I co-wrote a shoestring guidebook called Hanging Out in Ireland and had a weekly column in the student newspaper, but even so I remember being really hard on myself about wanting to write a novel and being scared to begin. As melodramatic as this is going to sound, it was September 11th that galvanized me. I kept thinking about how many people working in the Twin Towers had been writing on their lunch breaks. I’d started my “practice novel” that summer, but I really poured myself into it after that, in remembrance and in gratitude.
Why did you choose to write Life Without Envy?
I’d had a good experience with my first novel, but my publisher shut down my boutique imprint after the economic downturn, and after not doing much for my second novel they declined to issue it in paperback. I loved that book, those characters were real people to me, but I couldn’t do anything to keep it from going out of print. At this point I was in my early 30s, broke, and back living at home with my mom. I alternated between self loathing for having painted myself into a corner, and fuming at how I felt I’d been mistreated. I was letting my own frustrated thoughts and emotions make me miserable.
One day at the library I had a flash of insight: it’s the feeling trapped that’s trapping me. If I wanted to be happy again, I’d have to change how I was reacting to everything beyond my control. It wasn’t other people’s decisions and behavior doing this to me!
So I wrote what I most needed to read. I wanted to come up with a book of “practical philosophy” for artists who make a point of avoiding self help—I was recommending Eckhart Tolle every time I talked to another artist about anxiety and professional jealousy, but no one ever took me up on it! Life Without Envy is far and away the most useful thing I have ever made. [Editor’s note: This is part of the reason why I wrote THRIVE and TRANSFORM TO THRIVE. I totally feel this!]
If there is one thing you’d want people to do after reading this book, what would it be?
To be kinder to themselves, definitely! To stop beating themselves up for thinking jealous or angry thoughts (you are NOT a bad person!!!), to disengage from that relentlessly negative ticker-tape, and to spend some pleasurable chill-time exploring alternative routes to sustainable happiness—a way of being that is not remotely contingent upon the world’s reaction to your work. As you point out on your blog, Alexis, self care is essential to making the impact we were put here to make. [Editor’s note: Thanks for the mention Camille!]
Can you tell us about a specific instance in which you used the principles from Life Without Envy to overcome your toxic feelings?
I’ll give you an example from just this past week. I’m a member of the Writers’ Room of Boston, which is a great place to buckle down and an even more wonderful community. One of our most critically and commercially successful members was coming back after a hiatus, and I overheard her telling our program director she’d gotten a very prestigious teaching appointment for this fall. My mental ticker-tape kicked into MUST BE NICE! mode. The story I’ve been telling myself is my fiction is under-appreciated, and I’m a good teacher but no school will give me a gig, and in this case someone else’s success triggered the old BS.
But this is the practice, as Eckhart Tolle says: just to observe the thoughts quietly as they arise. Lately I’ve gotten pretty good at pinpointing the angry, whiny thoughts in real time, which I actually get really excited about. (I’m a self-improvement junkie!). So the awareness itself becomes the solution. The other thing I tell myself is that is someone else’s path. Recommit to THIS life. And that thought always, always sends me back to a happy and excited mindset, ready to create.
What is the best way to connect with you online?
Twitter and Instagram are my favorites (since I have a terrible habit of letting emails pile up for months!). I’m at @cometparty on both sites. I’m really excited to talk to other artists about Life Without Envy, because the more candidly we discuss our messiest feelings, the more stable and contented we all will be—both as individuals and as a creative community. I also blog at my website here.
Normally I don’t highlight authors with traditional publishers, but I couldn’t resist Camille because I just love what she’s doing with her book, Life Without Envy! It’s a perfect example of many of the things I talk about on my blog (and some of the things that will come up in my forthcoming ecourse, The Heart Unboxed). Definitely check out her site and her work (she’s got about as many different irons in the fire as I do).
Are you struggling with creative envy? Or have you overcome this? Leave a comment below!
- Between Chaos and Order: The Need For A Middle Way - June 18, 2018
- Spiritual Mamas: Intuition, Spirituality, and Motherhood - June 4, 2018
- Neither Selfish or Selfless – Only Loving! - April 30, 2018