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Sara Nelson (2 posts)
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Great American Novel? It's at least very, very good.
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
This early Oprah book club pick still changes lives.
Personal History by Katharine Graham
A revealing autobiography that never feels like TMI.
Q: I have an idea, and even some talent or training, but every time I sit down to do something about it, all I can hear is a sniveling, critical, who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are voice in my head. How can I get past that?
A: Freezing when you sit down to work by yourself is the same thing as freezing in front of an audience. In both cases, you're stymied by the fear of what people will think of you. The only difference is that here, the audience is in your head--a hypothetical group of people who will judge your output in the future. How can an imaginary audience have such a paralyzing effect? The answer is that deep down you feel you have to be perfect to win their validation. That's impossible. In fact, there's a strange truth about human creativity: The most creative part of you is also the most imperfect. This imperfect part of you is what we call the Shadow; and you shouldn't freeze it out of the creative process, you should invite it back in. This requires you to accept the worst--in whatever form it comes out: Write the worst sentence, paint the worst portrait, play as off-key as you can. Once you do this, the Shadow feels accepted--and creativity will then take over. For most people, this is pretty counterintuitive, but here's the truth: A real creative process isn't immediately gratifying. It's frustrating, mysterious, and uncertain.