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The Soul Tells A Story: Engaging Creativity With Spirituality In The Writing Life [Paperback]

By Vinita Hampton Wright (Author)
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Item description for The Soul Tells A Story: Engaging Creativity With Spirituality In The Writing Life by Vinita Hampton Wright...

IVP Print On Demand Title Explores the intersection of creative work and spiritual formation and reveals how nurturing both will lead you to new places of self-discovery and God-discovery.

Publishers Description
There is a reason artists tend to feel a sense of the sacred in their work. It's the same reason those on the path of spiritual formation find that creative exercises lead them into a deeper, more authentic experience with God. Creative work is soul work, and soul work is always creative work. Feeding one while neglecting the other will leave you restless and unsatisfied. Nurturing them both will lead you to new places of self-discovery and God-discovery. "I believe that spirituality and creativity are intricately connected, yet they are rarely nurtured and talked about that way," contends Vinita Hampton Wright. In these pages she leads you through the process and practice of integrating the worlds of Christian spirituality and creativity. You will find both inspiration and practical help for embracing the life that chooses you understanding the spiritual process of creativity facing the self you have to deal with comprehending the relationship of sexuality to both art and soul developing a supportive community for your work thriving as a creative person in the real world The Soul Tells a Story helps you to turn frustrated longings into satisfying growth.

From Publishers Weekly
Wright, the author of Velma Still Cooks in Leeway and other acclaimed novels, offers encouraging and inspiring words about creativity in the life of a Christian, and Christianity in the life of a creative person (the explicit focus is on writing, but most of this book is easily translatable to the other arts). Wright examines the ways spirituality feeds creativity, and vice versa. Both creativity and spirituality require community and intentionality, and both foster joy. Creativity, says Wright, can enrich one's spiritual life because creating a sonnet, collage or garden can help show the creative person something about the creator God; likewise, a spiritually infused painting or short story can be more than just entertaining-it can be life changing. Wright shatters many common myths about creativity, like the idea that writing requires an "artistic temperament." She gently cautions readers that the creative life is costly and may involve rejection, disappointment and hardship. Wright is refreshingly honest, addressing creative people's tendency toward depression and warning about potential dangers (for example, two creative folks can find themselves entangled in an illicit sexual affair if they're not careful). Writing exercises are scattered throughout the book, and Wright balances her lofty reflections on spirituality with answers to practical questions like Can writing pay the mortgage? Think Julia Cameron meets Madeleine L'Engle. This book is a marvelous resource. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Soul Tells A Story: Engaging Creativity With Spirituality In The Writing Life by Vinita Hampton Wright has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Christian Retailing - 05/16/2005 page 12
  • Publishers Weekly - 04/11/2005 page 50

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Item Specifications...

Studio: IVP Books
Pages   259
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.76"
Weight:   0.66 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2005
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
Edition  Print-On-Demand  
ISBN  0830832319  
ISBN13  9780830832316  

Availability  0 units.

More About Vinita Hampton Wright

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Vinita Hampton Wright is a Loyola Press editor and writer of many books, including Days of Deepening Friendship and Simple Acts of Moving Forward, and she blogs for She has been practicing Ignatian spirituality for a decade and writing about it for nearly as long. She lives in Chicago, IL, with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.

Vinita Hampton Wright currently resides in Chicago, in the state of Illinois. Vinita Hampton Wright was born in 1958.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Self-Help > Creativity
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Spiritual Growth > Spiritual Formation

Reviews - What do customers think about The Soul Tells A Story: Engaging Creativity With Spirituality In The Writing Life?

Great Voice, Great Advice  Jun 3, 2006
In The Soul Tells a Story I heard an experienced voice--one that could interpret and unfold my own writing life, with great candor and wisdom. I also heard a voice that's still reaching to discover new creative spaces, new depths to a personal "well" (a big image in the book). This voice called me to embrace my long-held writing gift in new, bold ways.

It was Wright's voice that ultimately kept me turning the pages--that and her provoking exercises and questions, wisdom and honesty, and insights relating creativity to spirituality.

Some of my favorite chapters were...

- "The Heart-Stopping Act of Saying Yes," which looked at what to expect when you're accepting the call to creativity.

- "The Various Ways We Tap the Well", which discussed how to find material and inspiration.

- "The Community that Counts", which discussed the issue of support and how to find it.

- "The Self You Must Face", which discussed the importance of embracing your past and your present, in order to produce the best creative work you can.

Occasionally repetitive, this book is nonetheless well worth the read if you're looking for a new way to examine your writing (or other type of creative) life. Overall, as Lauren Winner says, The Soul Tells a Story is "...stimulating, practical, and wise. This book is going on my shelf of absolute essentials."

Aptly spoken. And I second the sentiment.

P.S. I am rereading The Soul Tells a Story this year and am finding it just as wonderful the second time around. It's really a 4 1/2 star book, but we don't have the option to choose that in this site's system.
A Very Useful Book  Apr 28, 2006
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.
A Creative Life Can Be An Ordered One Too  Jun 3, 2005
It is perhaps a bit unfair that we writers have such a beautiful body of literature exploring the nature of our processes and passions. Titles like THE ELECTRICIAN'S LIFE: Reflections on Creating a Complete Circuit or OF NUMBERS AND DECIMALS: The Payroll Accountant's Way, are in short supply (and, in all honesty, probably in short demand) whereas a comprehensive bibliography can be compiled of must-read reflections on the writing life for those interested in such creative pursuits. Such a list would surely include the likes of MYSTERY AND MANNERS by Flannery O'Conner, WALKING ON WATER by Madeleine L'Engle, and BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott. And to that list we can also add THE SOUL TELLS A STORY by Vinita Hampton Wright.

With so much already said about writing, it is no small feat on Wright's part to have added not just an echo, but also new ideas to the conversation. Or rather, she has presented old ideas in a fresh way so as to be, at times, mistaken for new --- the true mark of creativity.

"Creative formation" is the term a friend coined to describe the process of seeking to intentionally shape our creative lives that Wright advocates. The parallel with spiritual formation is no mere accident as she sees creativity and spirituality as inextricably bound.

"I have become a more spiritual person because I write," she says. "The creative process is a spiritual one, and when we receive it as such, it deepens our gifts and edifies us in general. To write true stories, I must encounter truth, and as Jesus said, the truth makes us free. It also brings healing and grace when we attend to it. If I truly open my eyes and express in words what I have seen, then I will have participated in a spiritual act. I receive the vision from beyond myself, and I express it through who I am. This is divinity at work. It may be divinity at its finest, because the whole point of the incarnation was that we understand finally and with clarity who we really are --- made in God's image and possessing gifts with which to express God's very self to the world."

Based on this integrated vision for creativity, Wright spends time attending not just to the personal, sometimes esoteric, aspects of the creative calling, but also to the practical, more community-level dynamics often at play in the life of a writer. She acknowledges that sometimes love for those in your life might mean putting aside a novel to mend a broken marriage or care for an elderly parent. She offers tips for seeking out guidance from a mentor or group of engaged friends. She warns of the unique sexual temptations that those alive to the world can face.

While THE SOUL TELLS A STORY is aimed at writers, the principles involved would surely translate well for those with other creative pursuits and even the most casual of writers would do well to engage the practices Wright suggests. These include exercises to tap inspiration, to engage both the analytical and creative sides of the brain, and to confront the darkness that can be found in creative work.

There are additional, wonderfully practical aspects of THE SOUL TELLS A STORY, but I hesitate to list these components simply because the idea of a list seems to denote "formula" and to imply there is a formula to the creative life would be antithetical to what Wright is trying to promote. At the same time, she provides structure, the idea that a creative life can be an ordered life, even if not a tightly controlled one. And that is a welcome reminder for those of us waking up to the world through a creative calling.

--- Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel

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