Welcome to
Transactions with Beauty.
Thanks for being here.
I hope that this is a space that inspires you to add something beautiful to the world. I truly believe that 
you are required to make something beautiful.

– Shawna



Deep Practice and New Disguises

Deep Practice and New Disguises

I don’t know if anything I’ve written or made will stand any test of time. I’m not the writer who has saved her so-called “archives.” I’m not banking on some unknown future. I’m not imagining that I’ll be discovered in the near or distant future. What I’m putting my faith in is deep practice.

From Anne Bogart (you know my love of her book What’s the Story):

“Without a challenging practice, we are all inclined to become victims of our own habits and assumptions. And habits and assumptions are the enemies of art.”

“Practice changes the actual makeup of the body because new and lasting neural pathways can be forged in the heat of the practice.”

“Rote practice is not deep practice. Deep practice is slow, demanding and uncomfortable.”

And so I continue to photograph flowers, trying to learn something from that practice. I keep writing every day to reach out into that black space. I keep asking myself how one practice informs the other practice. And sometimes I just stop questioning and I feel my way, bumping into things in whatever darkness. I just try to feel those things that I’m crashing into, letting myself be bruised by them, knowing them in that way beyond words.

This is a slow process, a daily one, and nothing may come of it.

I learn to embrace the nothing.

As a writer, I think it’s useful to think about how dancers or actors practice. How potters practice. Artists. Athletes. Glassblowers. Etc.

bouquet shawna lemay


“Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.

Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.”

bouquet shawna lemay

As artists and writers, we have to think a lot about getting paid for our work. About not depleting our energy on things that give us nothing back, and on venues that don’t value our work monetarily. I very much believe that we need to be valued. I’m not the first to make the point. But sometimes when I think about trying to make money from what I do, I’m inhibited creatively. For example, these photographs. I’m trying to learn through taking these photographs, but I’m obviously at the same time offering them up more or less freely. I’m blogging in the same spirit, though of course you’ll notice the donation/support button on the sidebar or at the bottom of each post.

As I said, I put my faith in the heat of the practice. I’m allowing it to change me. I’m allowing myself to purely love the practice. To be its loyal servant.

I’m working on a few new disguises, as artists and writers do.

bouquet shawna lemay

Thinking of Rumi again:

“Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief

disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises.”

It’s strange that whenever I come across that passage in my Essential Rumi, I remember how I wanted that as an epigraph to my book about travellers to Venice, Against Paradise. For this and that reason, it was dropped, and I’ve regretted that ever since. However, there it is. Minor regrets, very minor.

Books in Conversation

Books in Conversation

Two Lines of Poetry or a Three Minute song

Two Lines of Poetry or a Three Minute song