View Full Version : Creator of "The Artist's Way" suffers from recurrent mental illness

Susan Lanigan
03-30-2008, 11:03 PM
Here on Amazon, reviews and descriptions of Julia Cameron's memoir, Floor Sample


Sadly, when I read that, a few things clicked into place. There was something about the tone of the Cameron books I had read that were just "wrong" - a self-centredness and a belief in her work that was in some ways misplaced, particularly with regards to her poetry. There was also the exposure of her private fears and hopes, particularly with regard to relationships - fears and hopes that most people keep under a protective shield.

I haven't been actively depressed since 2002, but there was something about the inability to conceal things that struck a familiar note. The inability to create psychological walls - to be in a state where as Paul Simon describes it "everybody sees you're blown apart / everybody feels the wind blow"

That said, a lot of the people on the review page were annoyed at her for having feet of clay. I don't think that's relevant - a good writing teacher need not be a good writer and Julia Cameron does seem to have her finger on the pulse of something, given her book is so popular. Plus, if mental illness were a bar, that would be curtains for Virginia Woolf for a start (who heroically continued through a novel smack bang in the middle of a depressive crash - it nearly finished her off but she kept going.)

I think it's interesting as this woman Cameron has always sparked ambivalent feelings in me. I've never liked her need to share and seek approval. But just because she's a bit of a nutjob doesn't mean she is either wrong or stupid and I think throwing out The Artist's Way just because she needs the happy smarties to stay balanced is not the right decision either. If it helps you, keep it. (That said, I don't think it actually is the right material for writers who actually want to get published - it seems to say the act of writing is enough, never mind the quality, which only gets you so far.)

Sorry if this is rambling - just my thoughts.

03-30-2008, 11:15 PM
I thought it was an interesting book, and I appreciated her candor about her depression and her...I don't know if it's appropriately described as "psychosis", "delusional mania," "schizoaffective break"? She didn't talk about her specific diagnoses.

But it did make me sad for her.

I've never thought of The Artist's Way as a book that's particularly helpful for most professionals, but I'm not sure it was designed for them, either. I do think the "morning pages" exercise can be useful for people who are having writer's block.

Susan Lanigan
03-30-2008, 11:17 PM
not if you don't do mornings, it's not :D

03-31-2008, 04:00 AM
not if you don't do mornings, it's not :D