Monday, May 11, 2015

April Reads

Back on track in April.

You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One), Jeff Goins - I'd heard much about Jeff Goins via various blogs I follow, and his appearances at conferences. Despite the title of the book, it is more about selling/positioning yourself to sell than it is about actually writing. Two thirds of the book concern building a brand and learning to pitch your work. Not quite what I expected, but some helpful information presented in a straightforward, easy to grasp manner. It's worth noting that Goins writes primarily, if not exclusively, nonfiction, via books like this one and articles and features for magazines and newspaper.

The Mystery of Art: Becoming an Artist in the Image of God, Jonathan Jackson - A five-time Emmy winner, Jonathan Jackson has a resume that starts with an ongoing role on General Hospital as a teen, includes movies like Tuck Everlasting, a music career with his own band, Enation, and currently a recurring role on the nighttime soap Nashville. He's also a committed Christian, worshiping in the Eastern Orthodox church. His faith is deep and well informed (the breadth of his reading of and knowledge of Eastern Orthodox theology as revealed in the book is impressive). But his faith doesn't just live in his head, it's lived out in how he approaches his art, and it is that concept on which this book is based. While his own artistic background, and therefore most of his real life examples, are in acting and music, he emphasizes that the ideas he presents are applicable to all forms of art, and in some way, all of us are artists. A few quotes:
Our society says the ultimate artistic virtues are entertainment, money, and fame. In this view, the artist is a means to a materialistic end: profit and power. In contrast to this, the ultimate virtues of the spiritual artist are sanctification and transformation. In a grace-infused worldview, the artist is more than a means to such heavenly ends; he participates in the world’s redemption.
To be made in the Image of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit means to be created for communion. All authentic creativity comes from God, whether the artist is aware of it or not. Every step of the way, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are creatively active in the world. In that sense, creation is ongoing. The artist can glimpse the wonder of eternity here and now.
Every day is an offering, a reason for praise and exaltation. Every morning is a foreshadowing of the resurrection that is to come.
This is an excellent read for anyone involved in the performing, visual and written arts. It is worth reading slowly, then rereading. It's so good, in fact, that I almost forgive Mr. Jackson the constant use of the Oxford comma.

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