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The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life Paperback – March 30, 2005


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The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life + The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers + Simple Acts of Moving Forward: 60 Suggestions for Getting Unstuck
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; Print-On-Demand Edition edition (March 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830832319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830832316
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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)
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Review

"Encouraging and inspiring. . . . Think Julia Cameron meets Madeleine L'Engle. This book is a marvelous resource." (Publishers Weekly, April 1, 2005 (starred review))

"The Soul Tells a Story is an amazingly generous offering: each page brims with Wright's essential and deeply learned insights from her years as both writer and editor. This is a brave book, willing to lead us into the darker corners of an artist's process. Even more, it is a celebration of entering into the divine work of creating, inviting us to expand our very souls in the process." (Kate Young Caley, author of The House Where the Hardest Things Happened)

"In this luminous volume Wright combines the splendid attributes of practical guide with practicing writer describing what and how she has learned from her own soul telling its story. Admirable!" (Luci Shaw, Writer in Residence, Regent College, and author of The Crime of Living Cautiously)

"The Soul Tells a Story is a book for writers and for those who are interested in the creative process. However, I believe it is even more of a book for spiritual sojourners of all faiths and spiritual traditions. Vinita demonstrates, through her own soul story, a depth of passion, honesty, struggle, creativity and above all a vibrant-energetic life, the integrative power of the soul at work within the human person. I do not cry easily when I read a book. I do not easily laugh or for that matter react with any strong emotion as I read, but as I turned these pages I often could not contain myself. Again and again I discovered something in Vinita's soul story that released something of my own soul story. I am deeply grateful." (Rev. Thomas M. Santa, C.Ss.R., author of Sacred Refuge: Why and How to Make a Retreat)

"Honest, stimulating, practical and wise. This book is going on my shelf of absolute essentials." (Lauren F. Winner, author of Girl Meets God and Real Sex)

More About the Author

To see what Vinita is doing currently, you can find her posting regularly on the Loyola Press blog, Days of Deepening Friendship (http://deepeningfriendship.loyolapress.com). These days she is editing, blogging, giving workshops and retreats, and working on a new novel (yet to be named and too young and fragile to be exposed to the outside world). She's also on Facebook and Twitter.

Vinita Hampton Wright has been a book editor for twenty-three years, currently senior editor at Loyola Press in Chicago. She leads workshops around the country on the creative-spiritual process--The Soul Tells a Story grew out of this work. Of her full-length novels, Velma Still Cooks in Leeway won a Logos Book-of-the-Year award, and Dwelling Places was selected by Christianity Today as Best Fiction of 2007.

Wright has published an updated edition of Simple Acts of Moving Forward. Days of Deepening Friendship focuses on the spiritual experience of women. She now leads retreats on this topic (contact her at wright@loyolapress.com). Her most recent book is The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers, based on her many years helping writers express their spiritual wisdom.

Vinita loves to cook, walk the city of Chicago, and watch movies. She and photographer/designer Jim Wright have been married 22 years. They share a bungalow on the far South Side with 2 cats and a dog, all of them rescues, all spoiled, and--depending on the day--helpful or not to Vinita's creative process. Vinita is finally learning to garden and now adds homegrown tomatoes, peppers, and herbs to her little feasts.

Customer Reviews

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This is a very honest book.
Patrice Fagnant-macarthur
Wright's book says you can strive for excellence as a creative person which will work in perfect partnership with your spirituality, as it should.
Susan Bailey
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.
L.L. Barkat

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By FaithfulReader.com on June 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
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.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Patrice Fagnant-macarthur VINE VOICE on April 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By L.L. Barkat on June 3, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 Amazon's system.
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