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Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance Paperback – Dec 24 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Creative process guru Cameron continues to guide readers on the "spiral path" of their artistic journeys in this eloquent third book (after Walking in This Water) in the series that began with her influential, bestselling creativity manual, The Artist's Way. For those who missed earlier installments, Cameron—an author, teacher and aspiring musical theater lyricist/librettist—rehashes basic tools to get creative juices flowing while also delving into her ongoing personal creative struggle. Structured as a 12-week course in regaining one's relationship with one's own work, whether it be writing, painting or music, the volume grapples with the symbiotic relationship between art and spirituality. Cameron posits a benevolent universe waiting to support the artist in his or her endeavors; the artist simply has to get out of the way and become a channel for the work to speak through them. Toward this end, she instructs readers in exercises for uncovering a sense optimism, balance, resilience, perspective and discipline, among other strengths. Woven through with confessional anecdotes from her life as a writing teacher and oft-blocked artist wrestling with self-esteem and faith in her work, this guidebook's combination of action-oriented steps and heartfelt revelations will speak to legions of struggling artists. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Praise for THE ARTIST'S WAY....
“THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron is not exclusively about writing—it is about discovering and developing the artist within whether a painter, poet, screenwriter or musician—but it is a lot about writing. If you have always wanted to pursue a creative dream, have always wanted to play and create with words or paints, this book will gently get you started and help you learn all kinds of paying-attention techniques; and that, after all, is what being an artist is all about. It’s about learning to pay attention.”
--Anne Lamott, Mademoiselle
“The premise of the book is that creativity and spirituality are the same thing, they come from the same place. And we were created to use this life to express our individuality, and that over the course of a lifetime that gets beaten out of us. [THE ARTIST’S WAY] helped me put aside my fear and not worry about whether the record would be commercial.”
--Grammy award-winning singer Kathy Mattea
“Julia Cameron brings creativity and spirituality together with the same kind of step-by-step wisdom that Edgar Cayce encouraged. The result is spiritual creativity as a consistent and nourishing part of daily life.”
“I never knew I was a visual artist until I read Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY.”
--Jannene Behl in Artist’s Magazine
“Julia Cameron’s landmark book THE ARTIST’S WAY helped me figure out who I really was as an adult, not so much as an artist but as a person. And award-winning journalist and poet, Cameron’s genius is that she doesn’t tell readers what they should do to achieve or who they should be—instead she creates a map for readers to start exploring these questions themselves.”
--Michael F. Melcher, Law Practice magazine
“This is not a self-help book in the normative sense. It is simply a powerful book that can challenge one to move into an entirely different state of personal expression and growth.”
--Nick Maddox, Deland Beacon
“THE ARTIST’S WAY (with its companion volume THE ARTIST’S WAY MORNING PAGES JOURNAL) becomes a friend over time, not just a journal. Like a journal, it provokes spontaneous insights and solutions; beyond journaling, it establishes a process that is interactive and dynamic.”
--Theresa L. Crenshaw, M.D., San Diego Union-Tribune
“If you really want to supercharge your writing, I recommend that you get a copy of Julia Cameron’s book THE ARTIST’S WAY. I’m not a big fan of self-help books, but this book has changed my life for the better and restored my previously lagging creativity.”
--Jeffrey Bairstow, Laser Focus World
“Working with the principle that creative expression is the natural direction of life, Cameron developed a three month program to recover creativity. THE ARTIST’S WAY shows how to tap into the higher power that connects human creativity and the creative energies of the universe.”
--Mike Gossie, Scottsdale Tribune
“THE ARTIST’S WAY is the seminal book on the subject of creativity and an invaluable guide to living the artistic life. Still as vital today—or perhaps even more so—than it was when it was first published in 1992, it is a provocative and inspiring work. Updated and expanded, it reframes THE ARTIST’S WAY for a new century.”
--Branches of Light
“THE ARTIST’S WAY has sold over 3 million copies since its publication in 1992. Cameron still teaches it because there is sustained demand for its thoughtful, spiritual approach to unblocking and nurturing creativity. It is, dare we say, timeless.”
--Nancy Colasurdo, FOXBusiness
Praise for VEIN OF GOLD, the second volume in the ARTIST’S WAY trilogy
“For those seeking the wellspring of creativity, this book, like its predecessor, is a solid gold diving rod.”
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That said, her third volume is a bit like watching a train wreck. Especially Chapter 5, as we enter the abyss with her, I began to feel some cracks in the foundation of daily pages and artist's dates. It appears that Ms. Cameron is struggling with her own advice -- "keep the drama on the page." And some of us may feel our own resolve begin to crumble. But as the book progresses, the theme of perseverance certainly proves its value.
Those of us who feel we know Ms. Cameron recognize instantly why she would be walking on mental eggshells. Not only is she not going back to Taos this summer, but she also has chosen to close out her artist's series with this third book. Readers will miss both, and in that knowledge share a small bit of the grief that Ms. Cameron must be experiencing.
Guess what. There is nothing magical. The answer is really quite ordinary. Whether you live in a New York high-rise (as Cameron does), or in the Pacific Northwest (as I do), you still have to show up at the empty page, alone, preferably every day. Cameron does the laundry, the dishes, takes the dogs for a walk and to the vet, just like the rest of us. Just because she has published many books doesn't mean she doesn't have to carry out the tasks of everyday life.
"Okay, God, you take care of the quality. I will take care of the quantity." That's the sign Cameron posts at her writing station. She offers the basic tools she has included in all of her books on writing: morning pages, artist dates and walking.
Morning pages, as you may have read in Cameron's earlier books, are three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing, done in the early morning for about half an hour. They're designed to get the kvetching out of your head and onto the page. Morning pages aren't necessarily all bad news, however. Sometimes you find in them the glimmer of a new idea. In this way, the pages become a "gentle mentor."
Artist dates can bring a sense of enchantment and connect you "to a larger and more fascinating world than our normal beaten path," Cameron says. On one artist date, she visits The American Museum of Natural History close to her Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan. You could visit an art gallery, a fabric store, a photo exhibit or see a movie in French with subtitles.
"Solvitur ambulando," St. Augustine is said to have remarked. "It is solved by walking." Cameron recommends walking to increase our creativity. That's when the "sorting process" begins. When we walk by ourselves, we "soon sense that the Divine is close at hand."
There you are: the tools. In each chapter, organized to cover twelve weeks of creative persevering, Cameron asks if you have done your morning pages, your artist date and your weekly walk. To carry the water theme throughout, in sections called Divining Rod, Cameron poses questions and prompts to help readers identify their Inner Censor (for instance) or exploring the art forms they could practice if they took the "easy does it" approach. "Remember, the Grand Canyon was carved a drop at a time." Cameron reminds us in her chapter, "Uncovering a Sense of Perspective." Having visited the Grand Canyon recently, I'd say that's a lot of drops!
Although Cameron's life may sound glamorous to those of us who don't live in New York City and who haven't published several books, it isn't. She struggles to earn a living just as we do, those of us trying to earn a living from our creativity. She has extra challenges, too: alcoholism, depression, and three breakdowns. I think she's a truly amazing woman and I applaud her for her courage and perseverance. She is a sober alcoholic who has learned to live each day very carefully, with writing, walking, praying, and contenting herself with "small amounts of progress." "All of the stratagems I have learned to apply to the artist's life come straight out of the toolkits I have acquired to maintain my sobriety," she says.
Besides using her own suggested tools, Cameron writes three pages a day on whatever project is at hand, whether it's a screenplay, a nonfiction book or a novel. After she reaches this quota, she is free to do something else, such as visit with friends or take in a movie. She wants to wear her identity as a writer as "a garment worn more loosely" and to approach writing as part of normal life. That approach she says, has "served me very well." Just as she doesn't let the laundry or the dishes pile up, she doesn't let the writing pile up either.
Cameron admits that she has found it necessary to repeat herself in this book. But what she repeats is important to our creative lives. The "small and gentle daily actions" lead to the large accomplishments. She waits at the keyboard to hear "what wants to come into being." I had to be reminded that there are really no magical answers. It is with a regular and committed practice that the magic can occur. I am grateful to have Finding Water as a companion and aim to commit to those three pages a day.
by Mary Ann Moore
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women