Book Review

The Call to Create: Liberating Everyday Genius
by Linda Schierse Leonard

reviewed by Florence Fitzgerald

I attended and greatly enjoyed last spring's conference where Linda Schierse Leonard was the morning keynote speaker and then offered a workshop in the afternoon.  With that as prelude, I opened her latest book with great anticipation.  (She is also the author of The Wounded Woman, Meeting the Madwoman and numerous other books.)   This book not only reinforces the wisdom she offered last spring but, for me, it was the source of at least two synchronistic experiences.   For Call to Create is, in many ways, a mapping of individuation as a very lyrical process, not merely an analytical process.  Her gentle reproof of the merely linear thinking so rife in our society/culture is very on-target.

This book opens with an introduction to nature as muse, counting the blessings of nature as they have affected artists across time and countries.  (I related to this as I remembered a childhood spent on a farm in rural Minnesota.)  From inspiration she moves to commitment and the archetypal role of the Sower, which plants the seeds, and the archetypal role of the Cynic that instills doubt.

Part II is dedicated to caring for the creation we are making.   Here we must deal the Tyrant and the Victim.  At this point I found myself recognizing how universal the Tyrant truly is both within ourselves and in the outside world around us.  I belong to an organization which is experiencing difficulties with a talented but driven board member.  Suddenly I recognized Tyrant as describing these difficulties perfectly.  (How good it is to have a word to define such a situation!)

We encounter still more Archetypes in the process of caring: the Sentinel that awakens the escape Artist, the Adventurer that challenges the Conformist, and the Artisan that teaches the Star humility.

The next step, we hope, is the blossoming.  Here the Dummling shows the Perfectionist how to play while the Lover opens the Critic's heart to compassion.  And, finally there is the harvesting in which the Celebrant demonstrates that praise is the whole thing.

Leonard's book draws upon all the arts-painting, writing, dancing, and more-to demonstrate how the process of creating enriches each of us and the world around us.  I particularly appreciated her examples of movies-a good number of which I have not seen-as carriers of the creation message.

Now for one synchronistic event I experienced while reading this book.  I was thinking very intensely about the importance of journal keeping as a creative venture when I opened the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times Magazine.  Featured within was an article by Gregory Orfalea entitled That's My Soul, Why Don't You Draw Yours?  He describes how, more than 20 years ago, he was a writer-in-residence at Miramonte Elementary School.  The students were not interested in writing; "Five times I tried to read a poem" he writes, "Five times it was swallowed in the din."  He went to the chalkboard and, half out of despair, drew an irregular closed figure, a blob.  When asked, "What's that?" he answered, "That's my soul. Why don't you draw yours?" Pandemonium broke out-students who had been so inattentive just moments before rushed to the board and drew lines, squiggles or perfect boxes.  Later they wrote poems just because one of their classmates had written hers.  He published the poems in his article; he had kept them all these years.

Florence Fitzgerald has been a quiet but deeply-loved guiding force and a source of inner strength for our Club for many years. She has served in various capacities on the Board.  From her we younger folks often get insights into things we didn't even know existed.  She's truly an inspiration.  After a very full professional life as a librarian she is enjoying her retirement.


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