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The pagan community has a proportionately large number of artists and creative people in its ranks. The artistic personality, therefore, is present to a wide degree within paganism--for better and for worse.

This book is an invaluable guide to the artistic mindset, as well as a wonderful guidebook for artists who are negotiating the possibility of living off their work.

The author has previously published two other versions of this work, "Staying Sane in the Arts" and "A Life in the Arts". It's about as close to a user's guide to the committed artistic lifestyle as you'll get. Maisel starts off by explaining what the art-committed life is, and how it differs from that life of someone who is merely interested in art, or who may collect but not create art. In fact, a large portion of the book  is dedicated to exploring the personality of the artist, why we may get so wrapped up in our art that we neglect human relationships, and whether or not our mood swings may be useful to the creative process. There's a lot of practical material as well in dealing with the artistic personality, including exercises and other brain food aimed at helping the artist achieve balance between art and the rest of life (and yes, that's a realistic balance for some of us!)

The other topic that is heavily covered is practical advice on living on one's art. The author is quite clear about how difficult a proposition this is, and does spend quite a bit of time explaining where the artistic personality may actually self-sabotage attempts at success. There's also material dedicated to honestly assessing one's place at the time, and how realistic it may be to shift one's focus, either to a new medium, or towards or away from art altogether. And there's a wonderful section on getting past creative blocks--not just writer's block, but blocks in general.

My only complaint is that the book is sometimes wordy, and I found myself skimming over areas where it seems Maisel was repeating himself. Still, overall this is an excellent read. I would recommend it to everyone--to artists, as a user's guide to the creative self, and to non-artists, for a better understanding of why we may have these strange personality quirks, and what drives us to our art so much.

~ review by Lupa

Author: Eric Maisel, PhD

New World Library, 2007

pp. 346, $17.95

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