Member News: Philip Kenney releases new book

Portland Psychotherapist and Author Philip Kenney announces the release of The Writer’s Crucible: Meditations on: Emotion, Being and Creativity

Congratulations to Philip Kenney on the release of his new book. Here is his announcement:

Flannery O’Connor once said, “Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay.” Why is the great Flannery O’Connor losing her hair? And why do so many authors go through periods of despair or consider abandoning their vocation? Because writing is tough. It subjects perfectly capable people to bouts of insecurity, self-doubt and enough encounters with demoralizing rejections to last a dozen lifetimes.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce the release of The Writer’s Crucible: Meditations on Emotion, Being and Creativity. I believe this book will make a difference in writer’s lives. Why the Crucible? Because writing inevitably delivers us to “a situation of severe trial.” The metaphor of a crucible offers hope that the heartache and suffering we undergo writing is not wasted, but is integral to the creation of something new and unimaginable at the outset of the work.

I am one of you. I have been writing since 1994 when I woke up one Saturday morning in the midst of an anxiety attack and discovered, of all things, a poem attached to it. At the time, I never dreamed of being a writer, and yet, I’ve been writing ever since. Which makes me very familiar with the dark hours of a writer’s life and the challenge of navigating those turbulent emotional waters.

The trouble is, most authors and artists are burdened by emotions that interfere with the magic of the creative process. In over 30 years as a psychotherapist, I have heard countless stories from writers that speak to feelings of unworthiness. To a person, there is a persistent internal narrative that declares, “I am not good enough.” This belief comes from deeply embedded feelings of insecurity and shame that create painful bouts of self-reproach.

Shame may be the worst of our emotional distress. It is what causes us to shrink from exposure and inflate ourselves in search of recognition. Shame is like blueberry stains on a white tee shirt. We strive every day to rid ourselves of the stain that doesn’t want to go away. We hide our real self, we strain to write the perfect book and demand the impossible of ourselves.

I refer to these phenomenon as “The Self Project.” The Self Project is the collection of strategies and maneuvers we employ to compensate for feelings of inadequacy and shame produced by the not good enough narrative. The Writer’s Crucible will help you relate differently to that critical internal voice in those moments when your heart drops through the floor and you want to hide or disappear.

Portland writer, Suzy Vitello, author of The Moment Before and The Empress Chronicles says,

“Kenney’s message for writers, ‘As one of you, for all of us,’
shepherds us to our deeper selves where we can learn to confront
and overcome the sometimes crippling shame that keeps us from the intrinsic goodness of our creative selves.”

And that is the essence of this book. The Writer’s Crucible will help you learn to accept emotions that feel unacceptable and transform shame into healthy self-respect and realistic ambitions. Moreover, this book delves into the ancient wisdom of Vedantic Literature that inspired Whitman, Emerson and so many other great authors. It is the perfect antidote to the state of mind that is preoccupied with proving it is good enough. Instead, this wisdom connects us directly with the creative impulse and our basic goodness.

Throughout the book, readers will find meditation practices that foster a connection with the realm of being and the wisdom that dwells there. Contact with that source not only diminishes the grip of shame on one’s psyche, but protects a writer from mistaking the strivings of the Self Project for the promptings of the muse.

The Writer’s Crucible is unique because it is experiential. It offers experiments designed to engage writers with the material so as to make it their own. In that spirit, I welcome any thoughts, questions, objections or revelations. Contact me at philipkenney49 [at] gmail [dot] com and I’ll do my best to respond.