An absolute pleasure to read. I now have a broader understanding of the issues involved in creative writing, and look forward to the development of this exciting area both in research, and my own practice.
The Self on the Page embraces a highly complex issue and is important and exemplary in many ways: it is compellingly written, useful, lucid and inspiring. Unequivocally, it provides an engaging entry into the topic of creative writing and personal development. This is a book for immediate reading and constant reference.
The seven projects the editors have chosen to present are deeply engaging, intriguing, thought provoking.
This book is divided into two sections: in part one practitioners from a variety of settings say how they use writing to help personal development, and part two puts forward theories linked to using autobiography as a form of psychoanalysis. Targeted at anyone working with people, whether as a group or individual, in any setting, this interesting and unusual book benefits from a wide range of viewpoints.
I would certainly urge drama-therapists to read this. I found it stimulating and often moving. Once or twice I discovered things in it which led me to revise assumptions I habitually make about the importance of the written word, and the sources and nature of its power to heal. Much of the text is informative and helpful, particularly the final chapter, in which the two editors draw conclusions about the potential for future development of writing as a psychotherapeutic resource.
This collection of essays will surely be welcome in all kinds of contexts. The editors have collected a fascinating range of material, all complementing each other, and providing an overview of the current thinking about how creative writing is a form of therapy or at least, a tool for self-knowledge. The essays cover general formal concepts such as the wonderful Peter Abbs on autobiography to the applications of writing in workshop and therapeutic sessions. The book introduces a subject that ought to take centre stage in writing courses: creativity as a satisfying end in itself, rather than something that leads to huge advances and reading tours. In other words, the writers here are aware that we live in a society in which emotional and spiritual communication are being increasingly marginalised rather than being a focal part of our ways of living together. Gillie Bolton's work with GPs, for instance, is partly about the nature of doctors as family members, listeners and friends ... I can't recall the last time I read such a positive, life-affirming book on what is often called "arts in society" as if it were a concept grafted onto "reality" in some way. Some of the work here uses literary theory and some keeps the focus firmly on the practical and immediate; but what all the essays offer is a selection of fresh approaches to areas we all seem to be aware of in conversation, but rarely have the chance to develop or satisfy our curiosity. The lines of thought here are so thought-provoking that some of the investigations and enquiries should lead to more substantial work in the future. This is a timely statement of intent from all of us involved in proving that writing is not simply a kitchen table hobby for would-be novelists, but something deep and integral to the personality. It is a need and professionals in classrooms and in clinics are recognising this. I know that I shall be using some of the ideas here to add to my resources for teaching, particularly in courses on writing for community and writing autobiography, largely because the spirit of the book is about transformations.