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Standing at Water's Edge: Moving Past Fear,…

Standing at Water's Edge: Moving Past Fear, Blocks, and Pitfalls to…

by Anne Paris

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Anne Paris writes for the blocked -- for artists suffering from some block on their creativity. Whether that block be real or perceived, Paris seems to strive to convince her readers, and specifically the artists among them, that the block is all part of the creative process of an artist striving for creative immersion, or the state of being completely a part of one's work.

Her premise is a strong one, and her goals and suggestions for struggling artists are clear and directed, but the contents of this book could have been neatly summed up into a short article rather than spanning the length of a whole book. Or, better yet, Paris could host a workshop reviewing some of these basic premises. But there is really no need for her to go on and on and on about what immersion means and how best to achieve it.

Some readers may take issue with Paris's personal leanings among the various schools of psychology and psychotherapy. Paris tends to lean more heavily toward childhood experience as the source of people's personalities and present experiences, and while she does attend to the pressures of adult-life circumstances as having some bearing on the adult psyche, adequate attention does not seem to be paid to the here and now, with preference instead being given to a search into one's past.

The tone of the book is also somewhat unaccommodating to the less emotion-driven among us. While Paris does an excellent job of seeming supportive and extending a hand to her reader -- one almost as tangible as a hand extended in an actual therapy session -- her compassionate, personal tone may become overbearing for those not in immediate search of such a tender touch. And her narrations of her own creative process are not always fully entwined with the point she is trying to convey in a given section, so that her message and examples sometimes fall flat.

That said, for the struggling artist, this book may provide answers to the nature and sources of the blocks we all encounter as we do our work, and the incomplete sentence prompts at the end may allow the reader to learn about his/her own personal interests, hopes, dreams, desires, and fears, as well as the roots of his/her artistic blocks.
  Eneles | Apr 23, 2009 |
Any artist/writer who creates from a deep seated place – a place of intensity and authenticity – will understand the fear at the point of immersion. It’s always scary and often confronting to work with our own deep seated material. Anne Paris’ book Standing at Water's Edge looks specifically at the concept of creative immersion; encouraging the reader to take the plunge and providing tips to overcome the blocks and fear that come naturally to such an undertaking. The book is easily read and clearly written, using many anecdotes and personal accounts from Paris’ own experiences and perhaps more importantly, from her experience as a clinical psychologist specialising in the particular issues that artists have.Understanding the fear at the base of the connection with ourselves and others that leads to creativity, we can begin to work on developing strategies and relationships that support rather than hinder our creative process. Paris’ prose is affirmative, compassionate and supportive and will help artists to take better care of their emotional needs. The book is divided into three parts. The first part deals with the whole notion of creativity, looking at where it comes from, and the internal drivers and fears that underpin how we create. The second part deals with the kinds of relationships that artists develop and require in order to work, and why they are so important. These include people that Paris has typed as “mirrors,” “heroes,” “twins,” and the “audience.” The third part looks at the stages of an artistic project and how to move in and out of immersion to heighten the quality of our work, and the emotional experiences that go along with it. At the end of each chapter is a “guide” which synthesises the chapter, and provides a series of steps to help artists put them into practice.Each chapter begins with one or more quotations from a famous artist or artists, that focuses on the point of the chapter. At the end of each chapter, readers are offered "Guides" with helpful suggestions on how to put the ideas from the chapter into practice. The book ends with a series of incomplete sentence prompts which helps the reader explore their fantasies, self-perceptions, fears, and support structures.The whole notion of creative immersion is a fascinating one and one which hasn’t been explored in a great deal of detail, and certainly not in way that takes high level psychological analysis, and puts it into a practical context for artists. Paris looks at the idea of creative immersion from as broad a perspective as possible, looking, not only at the notion of how we immerse in our own creative place to create, but also how we use the work of others.The work of many other artists and analysts are referenced and explored along the way, and Paris uses her own immersion in the work of Peter Gabriel as an example. She also references the impact of her own relationships and those of others that she has worked with to illuminate her points. This is well paced and inspirational book which artists and creative people of all kinds will find valuable. Creating real art from a place of honesty can be confronting and painful. Standing at Water’s Edge provides a deep psychological understanding of what is required, and how we can allow ourselves deeper immersion into the world of our art, regardless of what kind of art we practice. The end result will be not only more powerful art, but a better sense of who we are and how to overcome the many fears that block our creative impulses in all aspects of our lives.
  maggieball | Feb 5, 2009 |
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