“Book Review: The Writer’s Crucible”
Reviewed by R. Read
Author Philip Kenney knocks it out of the park with The Writer’s Crucible.
Even as I begin writing this review, insecurities plague my typing fingers. What if you don’t like what I have to say? What if I make a bad joke? What if, in the end, you don’t even understand what I was going for? Did I lie to myself, believing that I could do this?
But at least now, I’ve read The Writer’s Crucible. After reading this book, these insecurities are quieter, and I recognize them as they are happening. I shoot them down. Hey, reader, you think you’re wasting your time? Go ahead. Think that way. At least I know that I didn’t waste my time in writing.
Any writer or artist who has struggled with feeling “not enough” or “not worthy” can relate to and learn from Philip Kenney’s The Writer’s Crucible (Inkwater Press, 2017). In addition to its focus on writing and other art forms, it also offers context for living in a freed and accepting state of mind, acting almost like a 150-page-long look in the mirror, where reassuring wisdom illuminates its frame.
“Who says being present isn’t easy? The writer does.”
Including writing exercises, fresh new techniques, and fun anecdotes, author Philip Kenney thrives in his ability to communicate effectively with the reader. He combines his expertise in psychotherapy with a history of putting words onto paper to help you unlock that elusive key of returning to the blank page.
At one point in TWC, Kenney mentions a friend who is riddled with shame and self-doubt, someone he considers to have the ability to make phenomenal contributions to literature. But he is afraid that her work may never see daylight due to her unrelenting quest for perfection. This book aims to provide her (and you) the permission slip you’ve been waiting for. It helps you learn to let go and to accept yourself and your words as having value. You should feel proud of your work. You deserve it, no matter how many readers it reaches.
Using a sports phrase in my tagline seems fitting. Kenney analyzes famous phrases from athletes and celebrities often, and in that, he does a wonderful job of keeping us flipping the pages. Which phrase are we going to study next? How will Kenney use them to help us recognize the positivity in creative lives? With Mohammad Ali, Kenney writes:
“When Mohammad Ali shouted, ‘I am the Greatest,’ he was, in actuality, shouting, “You are the greatest!’ He shouted with indignation and a power seldom heard before…And we shouted with him….
“And why? Because something moves us, as it moves the rosebud to open…as it moves you to take up the pencil in your hand and write a few simple words down on paper, as it moves others to read those words, as it has for millennia moved and inspired your ancestors to express what it is like to be alive. What more could humans want?”
This book will remain on my desk as a go-to from now on. It will be a gentle reminder to accept my talents and my work, as I keep on going. Author Philip Kenney has helped me understand that creating quality work, over time, is an incremental process, and I’ll allow myself to write that first draft without self-doubt or fear of failure.
All right. Review done. Get out of here. Do me a favor and STOP READING my words. Head on over to Kenney’s website and click around for a while. I’m confident that you’ll be swayed in no time and that you’ll be wondering why you haven’t picked up The Writer’s Crucible sooner. Lose yourself in his writing.
And after, lose yourself in your own.