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The Soul Tells a Story
InterVarsity Press, 2005
Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
Creativity and spirituality are often seen as unrelated. Vinita Hampton Wright makes the case for their intimate connectedness in "The Soul Tells a Story." As she states, "The creative process is a spiritual one, and when we receive it as such, it deepens our gifts and edifies us in general."
Wright had two purposes in writing "The Soul Tells a Story." The first was to help readers with their creative process, to help them make the most of the creative gifts God has graced them with. The second was to help people make connections between their creative and spiritual selves. She succeeds on both counts.
This is a very honest book. Wright had a difficult, socially isolated childhood. In addition, she has suffered from depression at various times throughout her life. Because she does not see the world through rose-colored glasses, her perspective is very realistic. She understands that people experience pain, and encourages them to use that pain and work through it in their creative work. She also understands that it is not always possible to put your creativity first in one's life. "Because the world is broken and imperfect, there are times when, for the sake of loving others well, your creativity will have to wait." It is often possible, however, to explore creativity in the limited moments you do have.
Wright encourages readers to practice their craft. While "The Soul Tells a Story" focuses primarily on writing, this advice is useful no matter where your creative gifts lie. Like every other skill, practice can only make you better. In pursuing your craft, there will be many days that will just be practice. But in continuing to work at it, there will also be moments when the magic shines through.
One of the connecting threads between creativity and spirituality is the importance of faith. "In both realms you must believe that there is something bigger than you overseeing your life and keeping you safe." It requires faith to answer the call to be a creative person. "God doesn't call you to be successful, only faithful . . .you're called simply to do the work."
"The Soul Tells a Story" is a very useful book for anyone walking the creative path. It provides helpful suggestions for keeping on the road and continuing your craft even when you are tired. It also nourishes the spiritual dimension of one's person, providing encouragement and guidance for discovering what lies deep within.