Creativity is like a ball of energy. Without a vessel/tool to harness it or shape it, it just hangs there.
The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, was originally published in 1992. The 25th-anniversary edition was published in 2016. In the book, Cameron takes a unique approach to be creative. Using a variety of techniques (such as The Morning Pages and Artist Dates) she encourages her readers to dig deep and discover what is holding them back. She also includes exercises, activities, and prompts in each chapter, giving the reader further opportunities to pull out what is metaphorically inside of them.
I was shocked that I had never heard of this book until a friend told me about it recently. Learning about Cameron’s methods was almost akin to picking up a mental health-related self-help book. It’s not just about facing what is blocking us as artists, it is what is holding us back in life as well.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Artist’s Way is available wherever books are sold.
The trailer forEmily was released earlier this week. Written and directed by Frances O’Connor, Emma Mackey stars in the lead role as the mysterious and rebellious author.
The movie is about Emily’s life and her supposed romance with William Weightman (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). William was a local curate who was a friend of the Bronte family and if the narrative of the film is true, interested in Emily romantically.
I got Becoming Jane vibes while watching the trailer. Both Bronte and Weightman died young, leaving it up to conjecture as to the truth about their relationship. Bronte fans and academics have long believed that it was Anne, not Emily, who Weightman was in love with.
Only time will tell if it is true to what we know about Bronte or if it is based on unsubstantiated rumors. Either way, I look forward to seeing it.
Emily will be released in Canada and Europe in the next few months. The release date for the United States has not been announced yet, but it will likely occur sometime next year.
Learning to write can only be described as a process of trial and error. For every polished piece or story that is published, there are others that are still in messy draft form.
Many writers (myself included) started writing via fanfiction. Fanfiction is fiction that is based on previously released work. The beauty of this genre is that there are so many opportunities to take the narrative in a new direction. The story can be a prequel, a sequel, go inside a character’s head, take place in an alternative universe, etc.
The one caveat is that the publishing date determines whether or not the writer is breaking copyright laws. Anything that was published more than 100 years ago (i.e. the novels of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens) is public domain and obviously fair game. The same cannot be said if the tale being crafted is based on a work that is less than a century old. Anyone writing, for example, Harry Potter or Star Warsfanfiction is wading into legally murky waters.
The answer is yes, you can learn to write via fanfiction. Some of my early works are in need of a major rewrite. Even with that cringe factor, there is no doubt that I was learning along the way. The basics of creating fiction in terms of narrative, characters, setting, etc, can be mastered via this genre. E.L. James, the creator of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, has become one of the preeminent authors of our era started out by creatingTwilight fanfiction. Regardless of one’s opinion of James’s writing, there is no doubt that she has turned a hobby into a successful career.
Not everyone takes the same route when they start out writing. That does mean, however, that one path is better or worse than another. We all learn how to craft stories in our own way and own time. One of these routes is fanfiction.
I enjoyed this book. Though it could be seen as a little niche, it could also be seen as both a history book and a series of vignettes about respected writers. As a native Brooklynite, I enjoyed learning about the subjects and how their non-writing life influenced the works they would become known for.
My only complaint was that I wish that Hughes would have included more female writers.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Literary Brooklyn: The Writers of Brooklyn and the Story of American City Life is available wherever books are sold.
Though the truth is out, the question of Rafael’s future is now unknown.
I loved this memoir. His voice is so clear that you can easily see the world as he knew it to be then. The narrative speaks to the American dream and why so many have walked on that same path.
If nothing else, it reminded me of why my own relations immigrated more than a century ago. Their dreams of their future and their children’s future were the same as Agustin’s parents, even in a different time and place.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Illegally Yours: A Memoir is available wherever books are sold.
There are two ways to look at life. The first is a series of potholes that we stepped in and learned from. The second is to always be the optimist. My view is a combination of them both. Life is a combination of good experiences and bad experiences. What matters is how we deal with the outcomes of those events.
His life and career is nothing short of a roller coaster. As an LGBTQ activist, Fierstein has paved the way for this generation of queer young people to be out and proud of who they are. As a writer and actor, he has become well known and respected for his body of work: Independence Day, Newsies, Mrs. Doubtfire, Hairspray, etc.
Fierstein’s story is one of acceptance, change, and dealing with both the highs and lows that come with living a colorful life on your own terms.
I loved this book. In his trademark voice, Fierstein is funny, sarcastic, open, heartbreaking, and real. This is a man who has been to Hades and back and still finds joy in the little things. He is more than an icon in this book. He is a human being who has inspired us, made us laugh, made us cry, and most of all proved that we can be ourselves and thrive.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
I Was Better Last Night: A Memoir is available wherever books are sold.
May is Jewish American Heritage Month. With antisemitism on the rise in frightening numbers, the easier thing would be to hide who we are. Instead, we should be loud and proud of who we are. In honor of this month, I would like to offer a small list of American Jews who have made an impact on this nation.
Over the centuries, women have been portrayed as many things: the innocent victim who is in need of rescue, the slut, the man-hater, the marriage-minded miss, etc. The problem with these images is that they are 2-D and without room to grow beyond the boxed-in perception. The only way to smash these stereotypes is to allow us to tell our own stories from our perspective.
This book is a classic for a reason. Forty-plus years after its initial publication, it is as relevant today as it was back then. Their theory that women writers have a greater insight and ability to create 3D fully human characters as opposed to the typecast idea of females that some male writers have can still be seen today on both the page and the screen.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than to write a review of this book. I read their first book years ago and was blown away. My reaction to its sequel was the same. I loved it. It was powerful, it lit a fire under my proverbial behind, and it reminded me how far we still need to go. They take the energy from The Madwoman in the Attic and use it to propel the story forward. In doing so, Gubar and Gilbert inspire younger generations to take the torch from their hands and continue to fight for our rights.
The Diary of Anne Frank has been read by millions of readers since it was published in 1947. The ending is both hopeful and devastating. The one question that still leaves us hanging after 70+ years, is who was responsible for the betrayal of the residents of the Annex?
The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, by Rosemary Sullivan, was published this month. The book follows the multi-year search led by FBI investigator Vincent Pankoke to answer the question once and for all. Using modern cold case investigative methodologies and working with a team of historians and other experts, no detail is left to the wind. Every clue is followed to the bitter end, leading to a suspect that if proven to be the one, has gone undetected for nearly a century.
I know it is only January, but I can already see this book topping the list of best books of 2022. It is a heart-pounding thriller that kept me hooked until the final page. As we got closer to the end, I wanted to know who was responsible. If nothing else, it is a reminder that getting justice is still possible, even when those directly affected are no longer with us. When it closed for the last time, I knew that there was a light in the darkness. Perhaps history will not repeat itself and we will finally learn the lessons of diversity and respect.