The Creative Life: True Tales of Inspiration
If you haven’t heard of Julia Cameron, you’re probably familiar with her best-selling book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Creativity. This seminal book has helped many recovering and blocked creatives find their way back to a place that is nourishing and healing while giving them the tools they need to unblock their creativity. As Cameron wrote in her introduction to the tenth anniversary edition of The Artist’s Way, “Art is an act of faith, and we practice practicing it. Sometimes we are called on pilgrimages on its behalf and, like many pilgrims, we doubt the call even as we answer it. But we do.”
The Artist’s Way grew out of classes that Cameron gave on creativity to blocked creatives. The “notes” that Cameron had created for these classes evolved into a book that eventually became a worldwide best seller. The book has been used in prisons, hospitals, universities, and human-potential centers as well as by therapists and doctors. One of the core teachings of the book is an emphasis on tapping into the spiritual creative energy that is accessible to all of us through daily journaling that Cameron calls “Morning Pages,” and “Artist Dates,” during which readers are encouraged to embark on spontaneous fun outings of discovery to spark the creative process. Cameron has written a number of best-selling books since The Artist’s Way, including Walking in the World and Finding Water, but it is probably safe to say that none of them have touched so many individuals or inspired so much change in people’s lives as The Artist’s Way.
Cameron’s latest book, The Creative Life: True Tales of Inspiration is described in the book jacket copy as showing readers how to create lives that “nourish and sustain their art.” I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed in the book because it didn’t quite meet up to its advance billing. In this book/writing journal, Cameron invites the reader to be a fly on the wall in her Manhattan apartment and during her domestic and international forays. During this period, Cameron is finishing a book, collaborating with her creative partner on lyrics and music for an upcoming musical, coaching and mentoring artists, young and old, in the art of being creative, and traveling to London to hold workshops on creativity.
To be honest, I’m not sure if some of my disappointment in the book was related to the discovery that despite her successes as a published author, Cameron did not seem to be following her “true north” when it came to the writing of this book. Cameron continually questions whether she will be able to complete a book by deadline (presumably this book that is being reviewed). She writes at one point, “I feel like writing, but I feel like I have lost my voice.” While I understand that even famous and successful writers are insecure, I sensed as I read the book that Cameron was not entirely happy with the finished product, but felt pressured to meet her publisher’s deadline. As a result, The Creative Life: True Tales of Inspiration leaves the reader feeling somewhat let down and disappointed because it is, frankly, not in the same league as The Artist’s Way.
That being said, Cameron’s honesty and frankness about her doubts and insecurities about her writing and her ability to continue to create are refreshing and a testament to her willingness to continue to take risks for the sake of her art.