Monday, March 18, 2013

GoodReads Review: The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women

The 12 Secrets Of Highly Creative Women: A Portable MentorThe 12 Secrets Of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor by Gail McMeekin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Liberally filled with thoughtful quotations and illustrative stories, this book tackles the subject of making space in your life to pursue creativity - in terms of time, physical space, mental energy, privacy and many other aspects. Although the author asserts that the contents apply to anyone who wants to access their creativity, the book's slant and the lion's share of the miniature biographies focus on women who pursue creative work as a career. Still, I think it can be validly helpful for those who "merely" want to have a hobby ... but you may feel a little pressured by the end of the book.

It's hard to provide an objective analysis of this book because the subject matter is deeply personal and intrinsically dependent on one's internal beliefs about the societal pressures on women and the creative process, so I feel I should put my biases up first. When it came to the societal elements, I felt that the book verged on a radical feminist perspective in some places, and this made a little skeptical of the contents. As far the creative, I think there's a certain New Age view of creativity as something sacred and exalted, and I've never been totally comfortable with this formalized, almost religious reverence for it. I think to improve the quality of what you create, you also have to treat it as a craft and even (sometimes) a science, and refusing to take creativity down off this spiritual pedestal hampers that.

Some of what is presented in this book is common sense ... but often, common sense isn't, and it's a rare book that can show you something that you knew all along, present it in a new light, and make you see the significance of it. I had that experience multiple times reading The 12 Secrets, particularly the chapter about fallow periods.

I was not so sure about the underlying message that the universe will provide and that persistence and belief will bring you to the right path. I thought that the stories offered throughout didn't provide enough assessment or discussion of what happens when an endeavor falls through. Too many of them seemed to involve serendipity, and I found my inner skeptic piping up. What about those of us who don't have fortunate coincidences? I would have loved to see a cautionary tale about someone who invested too much and went awry. For me, this would have strengthened the inspirational tales and lent validity to them, not subtracted it.

For me, this book happened to come at the right time and proved to be very powerful. It helped me center myself in a mental transition period, and I'm very grateful for it. I do question, however, whether it's a book for all people at all times - but maybe there's something to the synchronicity I just criticized. So maybe I should say that if you're just casually curious, this book may not be for you, but if its premise somehow speaks to you ... read it.

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