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Be Mused by Susan M. Brackney
Be Mused : Lost Soul Companion Book Review

The Lost Soul Companion by Susan M. Brackney

A Book of Comfort and Constructive Advice for Black Sheep, Square Pegs, Struggling Artists, and Other Free Spirits

Book Review by Chris Dunmire

Have you ever read the cover of a book and felt like the message it conveyed was written especially for you? I seldom have that experience, even with books dealing with self-help and personal growth topics. But there was something about the cover of The Lost Soul Companion that spoke to me, that made me feel like I was in the company of someone who truly empathized and understood the deep-down feelings of detachment plaguing many creative people. Susan M. Brackney's way of putting it: We are Lost Souls.

An excerpt from the books' back cover describes in part what you will find throughout all 159-pages: 

"The Lost Soul Companion is the perfect guide for anyone grappling with the darker side of creativity. A source of support when you're knee-deep in rejection slips, this remarkable little book offers both inspiration and compassion, plus surefire strategies for surviving in what can sometimes seem like 'a world of meanies.'" 

In addition to good advice and inspiring personal stories, Susan candidly discusses the topics of depression and suicide — common elements related to the "darker side of creativity." She also provides interesting information about famous people (James Dean and others) throughout history who have struggled with depression during their lives. Through her research (Famous Suicides, and What-Ifs), amusing real-life anecdotes (Anger and the Evil Heads), and personal revelations about her struggle with clinical depression (Creativity and Depression: Getting Out of the Hole), Susan helps the reader contemplate the important things in life, and gives good advice for creatively coping with life's difficulties.

I appreciated the down-to-earth approach Susan took to writing this book. She did not write from a viewpoint of having moved beyond her lost-souledness, or to promote her work as an ultimate solution to all of the challenges we (and especially those struggling with depression) face in our lives. Instead, she shares her experiences and insights with us through the pages, hoping that we might take away what is useful to us and pass it along to someone else who may need it too.

I found myself experiencing a wide range of emotions at various places in the book. For instance, I laughed with tears in my eyes when I read an all-too familiar reaction to home-made snow globes (p. 46). And I felt compassion towards the feelings Susan shared relating to her experience with clinical depression and the challenges she faces in her life because of it. Thankfully, Susan ended the book with motivating thoughts for living well, and helps us to take note of the important things in our lives with an essay titled Life is a gift: Eat it Up!

I highly recommend this book to all creative and/or depressed "lost souls" and also recommend reading Susan's syndicated column Be Mused right here on the Creativity Portal Web site — a wonderful source of inspiration to creativity enthusiasts, writers, and artists at all levels. In addition, you can read an entire excerpt from this book titled Creativity and Poverty, which provides tricks to living comfortably on very little income •

© 2002 Chris Dunmire. All rights reserved.

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