Thursday, October 1, 2009
Back to Writing - Book Recommendations to be Inspired : The List for Artists
Previously published on the blog Book of Kells, September 2009:
For many of us with kids in school, when the school year begins, so does our writing.
Sometimes I swear I'm hardwired to write from September to May, to throw myself into the work then completely neglect it during summer. This is how I operated during my school years and college. I spent every summer on college on "Unemployment Row" at Greenlake with my lawn chair.
Now as an adult, I do a similar thing, except replace "Unemployment Row" with "Family Plans" and you have my life.
So I've been returning mindfully to writing first before I jump in, that I will save until September when my writing shed will have a bowl of non-pariel chocolates and I will cut blue hydrangeas to put on my desk.
If you are feeling uninspired and looking to be inspired I have a couple of book recommendations for you as autumn comes and asks us all to quiet our social plans and come inside to write...
1) Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
***A fantastic book by genius grant winner, Twyla Tharp. From the School Library Journal: Tharp shows how and why artists must actively seek and nurture inspiration. The dancer/choreographer draws heavily on her personal experiences to guide readers into cultivating habits that give birth to success.
Most libraries have this book and I have checked out the copy so many times I feel as if I own it. I should eventually just buy this book because it's one that inspires me and reminds me there are so many of us trying to live the creative life.
2) David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity
***Okay, this was a recent surprise find for me. I downloaded the audio book from the Seattle Public Library last night and it's been a treat to listen to. I think it's only 2 hours, so it's a quick read (191 pages) or listen.
I would recommend the audio version of this book. David Lynch (Twin Peaks creator among other things...) is reading it and listening to him makes it much more conversational and enjoyable. There's a huge focus on Transcendental Meditation, which he has been doing for the last 33 years (he does 20 minutes of this meditation 2 times a day and hasn't missed a meditation in 30 years).
Publisher's Weekly wasn't really impressed with this book--some of the chapters are a quick blink--but I think they missed the point of this book. It's a fun, quirky book with a unique perspective by someone who began as a visual artist then became a film-maker and is written for creative people who are working in the arts, not a self-help guide, but a series of stories about happy accidents and how doors open when you find your path.
Also, great lessons. My favorite being the painter that said, "You need 4 hours of solitude to get one good hour of painting." (For me, this can be my writing life!)
This was published in 2006 and as I said, our public library had the audio version online and they have pretty inexpensive versions on Amazon (it looks as if it must be out of print). But if you like David Lynch, get the audio version as it's nice to hear him talking in your head.
3) Hugh McLeod's Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
****I mentioned this book a few posts ago and just wanted to bring it up again since I finished it in 2 days and enjoyed it.
For this book, I recommend the print edition especially since the author is a cartoonist and many of his drawings are included throughout the pages.
This book probably won't teach you anything you don't know as an artist/writer, but it's good reminders and enjoyable writing, plus his cartoons can be pretty funny. It's one of those books where you feel like you're having a beer with the artist/writer and he's telling you what's worked for him.
A very easy read and should be available in your local library system (I got mine from our small community library, and I tend to think if we have the book in our system, your library should as well).
4) Cecile Andrew's The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life
***I have mentioned this book before also, probably because I read it cover to cover every fall. I think it's an incredible book for those of us living a creative life and helping us get back to things that are important to us. It's not about self-imposed sacrifice, but a greater understanding that we don't *need* a lot of the stuff we have and actually the more stuff you have, the more responsibility you have (the care of it, the storage of it, etc.)
I was surprised that this book got quite a few negative reviews on Amazon because for me it's the best book on changing your choices to live a better life and slowing down.
From the Amazon review:
The Circle of Simplicity speaks to readers seeking to find greater peace and happiness by eliminating some of the clutter and distraction in their lives . . . Her book emphasizes the value of slowing down as a way to find time to reconnect with a community.
For me, it's a reminder to spend my money on things that bring me happiness - experiences not things-- a lesson that I had to relearn from my materialistic teenage years to my rushed and overworked twenty-something years when money just slid from my wallet on "convenience purchases" such as eating at the Red Tomato every day for lunch instead of bringing a bagged lunch to quick purchases that weren't really thought out-- um, the gym membership I never used, never even found time for that...
So each fall, I pull out my Circle of Simplicity and remember all the things I've forgotten over the year about living simply, which itself is a creative process. For me, it's about reconnecting with my creative life, not being the waster, the quick-buy out-of-ease person, the person I can be when I'm not paying attending or living intentionally. It's about getting back to what matters to me, family, writing, friends, experiences that make me a fuller a person.
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