Daily Archives: December 28, 2010

Staying Sane in the Arts

Staying Sane in the Arts by Eric Maisel

I am vaguely dissatisfied with this book. Many writers I know think very highly of Eric Maisel and I wanted to see what he was about.

Maybe this isn’t a good representative work. I don’t know. It’s light on philosophy. Honestly, it’s light on everything. The breadth of this book is enormous. It strives to encompass artists of all natures at every stage in their careers. It wants to offer advice to the struggling unknown and the superstar. To the concert musician, the painter, and the poet. All in 250 pages.

Also, there are a few basic tenants that don’t agree with. I don’t believe there is a fundamental difference between “artists” & “non-artists” and “art” & “genre art.” I believe it takes as much creativity to be a great engineer as a great novelist. Granted, there is a difference in what abilities people have and how their jobs are structured, but it’s a disservice to view “art” in vaguely mythological terms. And while it’s good to talk about the compromises one might make in an effort to make a living in art, commercial art is kind of bad-mouthed. Which doesn’t fly when your audience is a “genre” writer.

Maybe I shouldn’t have read it all at once. Do people read self-help books straight through? There are a few good suggestions for guided writing exercises, but nothing ever truly gelled for me.

Other Notes:

Very broad, unscientific view of “madness.”

I also have a tendency to not think of artists as being different from others.

Book #30 & 2010 Reading Review

Book #30 – Staying Sane in the Arts by Eric Maisel

I am vaguely dissatisfied with this book. Many writers I know think very highly of Eric Maisel and I wanted to see what he was about.

Maybe this isn’t a good representative work. I don’t know. It’s light on philosophy. Honestly, it’s light on everything. The breadth of this book is enormous. It strives to encompass artists of all natures at every stage in their careers. It wants to offer advice to the struggling unknown and the superstar. To the concert musician, the painter, and the poet. All in 250 pages.

Also, there are a few basic tenants that don’t agree with. I don’t believe there is a fundamental difference between "artists" & "non-artists" and "art" & "genre art." I believe it takes as much creativity to be a great engineer as a great novelist. Granted, there is a difference in what abilities people have and how their jobs are structured, but it’s a disservice to view "art" in vaguely mythological terms. And while it’s good to talk about the compromises one might make in an effort to make a living in art, commercial art is kind of bad-mouthed. Which doesn’t fly when your audience is a "genre" writer.

Maybe I shouldn’t have read it all at once. Do people read self-help books straight through? There are a few good suggestions for guided writing exercises, but nothing ever truly gelled for me.

—###—

So, ending on a down note considering a primarily good reading experience in 2010. This has been a stand-out year, mostly because I quit reading books I didn’t care for. There are too many books in the world to waste time reading ones I don’t like. Two high points: Tyler recommending Erik Larson to me and Chris loaning me the Horus Heresy books. Yay, for being social, I guess. The breakdown:

30 books read.
16 by authors that were new to me.
5 by female authors.
6 nonfiction.
2 rereads.
5 read in electronic form (and I don’t even have an e-reader!)
3 from the library.
3 loaned to me.

Plus a bunch of short stories. I plan on keeping better track of them in 2011.

Acquired 24 books in 2010.
6 purchased used via the library sale and Book Maze.
3 were gifts.
13 were acquired from PaperBack Swap.

Plus there are a few on the way that I don’t think are going to make it here by the end of the year:
5 from Amazon.com – gifts.
2 from PaperBackSwap.

Vague plan for 2011 is posted at Reading Notes.