Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Million Mile Walker Review What We’re Reading and Why By Mark D. Walker

FIind this book on Amazon HERE
My fellow writers will appreciate this book filled with inspirational stories about how authors prepare themselves each day to create their next masterpiece . . . or not. 

I learned about Daily Rituals from a speaker at the Phoenix Writers Network and began reading some of the 161 short profiles from famous authors and artists each evening, which I found inspirational as well as an opportunity to rethink my approach to writing and how to be both creative and effective. I’ve often wondered how other authors and artists do meaningful creative work and earn a living, which many of these profiles deal with. 

According to the publishers, this book brings together “Writers, composers, painters, choreographers, playwrights, poets, philosophers, sculptors, filmmakers and scientists on how they create (and avoid creating) their creations. “ 

The author reveals why and how he wrote this book in the following statement: 

In that sense, this is a superficial book. It’s about the circumstances of creative activity, not the product; it deals with manufacturing rather than meaning. But it’s also, inevitably, personal. (John Cheever thought that you couldn’t even type a business letter without revealing something of your inner self— isn’t that the truth?) My underlying concerns in the book are issues that I struggle with in my own life: How do you do meaningful creative work while also earning a living? Is it better to devote yourself wholly to a project or to set aside a small portion of each day? And when there doesn’t seem to be enough time for all you hope to accomplish, must you give things up (sleep, income, a clean house), or can you learn to condense activities, to do more in less time, to “work smarter, not harder,” as my dad is always telling me? More broadly, are comfort and creativity incompatible, or is the opposite true: Is finding a basic level of daily comfort a prerequisite for sustained creative work? 

The book includes 27 graphics and photos, such as Ben Franklin’s ideal daily routine, from his autobiography, which starts each morning with the following question, “What good shall I do this day?” The opening quote of the book from Thomas Mann, “Death in Venice,” anticipates what much of the book’s content will try to answer: “Who can unravel the essence, the stamp of the artistic temperament! Who can grasp the deep, instinctual fusion of discipline and dissipation on which it rests!” An extensive set of notes and permissions can be found at the end. 

I gravitated first to my favorite authors like Graham Greene, who decided to write a book of questionable quality because it would be a good seller and allow him to pay the bills while finishing his classic, “The Power and the Glory.” According to the profile on Greene, “…To manage the pressure of writing two books at once, he took Benzedrine tablets twice daily, one upon waking and the other at midday. As a result, he was able to write two thousand words in the morning alone, as opposed to his usual five hundred….”

An excellent and inspiring read for all writers and artists looking to improve their habits and creativity as well as appreciating our special vocation by looking in at the “rituals” of others.

Walker was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala and spent over forty years helping disadvantaged people in the developing world. He came to Phoenix as a Senior Director for Food for the Hungry, worked with other groups like Make a Wish International and was the CEO of Hagar USA, a Christian-based organization that supports survivors of human trafficking. 
You can learn more at 

His book, Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond, was recognized by the Arizona Authors Association for nonfiction and according to the Midwest Review, “. . . is more than just another travel memoir. It is an engaged and engaging story of one man’s physical and spiritual journey of self-discovery . . .”

Find it on amazon HERE

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