exposing the books weaknesses. The review I imagined myself writing had sentence like, “Cameron fails to acknowledge the role of redemptive suffering in her book.” However, I realized that the
review I would have written was judging the book unfairly. The book is a book about enhancing creativity, or “unblocking the artist” as Cameron might say. It is not a book trying to explain everything. It makes no claim to be a book of comprehensive spirituality or theology.
In fact, Cameron distances herself from both. It is a workbook that invites the reader to explore and engage their creative selves. In this, the book succeeds.
Cameron walks the reader through a twelve week process of creative
recovery. Using short essays on specific themes, several suggested
tasks for each week, and two fundamental tools, Cameron encourages the
reader to explore the blocks to their creativity and offers various
practices to help overcome these blocks.
The essays, while short, cover a lot of ground. They are clearly written. Several of these essays hit me between the eyes. They forced me to see my own fears and resistance.These exploratory essays provide lots of food for thought. Excuses for not doing creative work are explored, exposed, and dismissed. And that is their fundamental purpose, to make the “blocked” artist engage in the work of “unblocking.”
The weekly tasks offer a way of exploring resistance. Some take a
positive approach. For example, collecting images to nourish your
inner artist (described by Cameron as like a child). Others take the
opposite approach. For example, giving your inner censor (the part of
you that constantly criticizes your inner artist) a name and a face.
Cameron assigns several of these tasks each week and gives the reader
free reign in picking the ones that will be most helpful.
The two fundamental practices are the Morning Pages and the Artist’s
Date. The Morning Pages are three pages written longhand every
morning to clear the junk away, much like a meditation practice. I
found these pages extremely helpful. The Artist’s Date is a weekly
outing with one’s inner artist to nourish this child’s soul. This was
much more challenging for me. This is certainly not Cameron’s fault
and I believe she is right in recommending this practice. I am still
too much of a workaholic to engage in the Artist’s Date, but I am
working on it!
Overall, I see the work I put into this book as time well spent. I
would encourage anyone who wants to explore their creative selves to
give this book a try. It doesn’t do everything, but what it does is worth the effort!
The first part of the book is not quite as strong but is still worth reading. In it, Taylor reflects on common theological themes (e.g. Vocation, Imagination, the Church, the Bible, etc…). This part is well written but the insights are not as striking or original as those found in Part 2.
Taylor’s imaginative and engaging style is delightful to read and her use of words reveals why she is regarded as one of the premiere preachers in the United States.