Eric Maisel’s ‘The van Gogh Blues’ 1

September 20, 2009

Maisel’s book is based on the premise that people who have chosen a creative life- artist, innovators in science and other fields,  are creating the path as they go. Since they rarely accept authority’s explanations,  they have to find their own ways to create  meaning. Failure to do this can lead to depression.

The most helpful thing I found about this book was the acknowledgement of how hard it can be to be a creative person.  Not only are we faced with our inner demons, the ones who tell us we are worthless, our work is irrelevant, our lives are meaningless, but also the hard facts of existence: that society doesn’t particularly value art or artists. And that to lead a meaningful creative life full of heart, engagement and meaning, you often have to work at something less meaningful to pay the bills.

Helpful on a practical level, Maisel helps creative people confront the hard parts, but also suggests ways to counteract our meaning crises. Here is an example of a meaning crisis: An artist spends 7 years on a screenplay he is passionately commmited to, and it is rejected everywhere he submits it. He sees lesser work produced for great amounts of money.  His crisis is, ‘Can my life be meaningful if I spend it producing work that no one wants?’

Maisel helps artists create a sense of worthiness inside themselves that is independent of outside recognition,though he doesn’t shy away from the grittiness of this dilemma.  By following his advice and doing the tasks set forth in the book, an artist can keep creating no matter what. And that is the most important thing.

Continued in Eric Maisel’s,  ‘The van Gogh Blues’ 2.

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