This beautifully produced work from Michaels (Lily of the Valley
, 2016, etc.) encourages one to embark on a modern-day, metaphorical version of the medieval alchemists’ quest to turn base metals into gold. One may refine oneself, the author says, to “attain one’s Personal Gold.” She breaks down the mechanics of this “mystical, magical, meditative process” into seven steps, which she says that a reader may unlock with an unexpected method: writing poetry with his or her non-dominant hand. Michaels claims that such untutored writing forces one to draw on the intuitive, emotional right side of the brain, using what she refers to as the “Prima Materia” of one’s creativity. In this way, she says, one may achieve a deeper understanding of self and, ultimately, a closer connection to God. In brisk, evocative prose, Michaels systematically lays out the details of each of the steps, such as “Self-Purification,” “Preparation,” and “Distillation,” even down to specifics of location and time of day. She knows that readers will be initially skeptical, especially considering how little success most people have in doing finely controlled work with their non-dominant hand: “how can anything of value come from what must surely be indecipherable squiggles?” she imagines such readers asking, but she assures them to trust in the process. Whether or not readers achieve any success with its method, the book’s romantically charged language about poetry and personal investment is extremely contagious and oddly encouraging. Overall, it’s an effective invitation to write and explore one’s creativity: “You are the alchemist of your life,” she writes in a typically upbeat passage, “and your laboratory awaits.” The consistent messages of self-discovery and patience will appeal to many readers, regardless of their alchemical disposition.
A colorfully written guide to entering the “Inner Sanctum” of one’s creativity.
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