Writers, like the rest of us, have a hard time mining the gold that lies within them. As Bonnie Friedman points out in this excellent paperback, they are constantly pulled away from the task at hand. Envy leads writers down a dead-end street; fear eats away at self-esteem; distraction dilutes their energy; and the quest for success is a false enchantment. Friedman's rich treasure trove of illustrative material from Carl Jung, Cynthia Ozick, Soren Kierkegaard and others opens up Writing Past Dark and makes it suitable for anyone on a creative path.

We especially liked her observations on distraction: " 'To distract' originally meant to rend into parts. It's from the Latin for 'to draw in different directions, to pull asunder,' and calls to mind the ancient torture of roping a man to horses and having them charge off in opposite directions. Distraction wrenches apart; it scatters and divides. The word also meant, as it does now, to draw someone from his or her actual destination, to perplex, and to derange in mind." As any writer knows, this is a heavy irritant. It can be solved by attention and intention to stay the course in our creative endeavor instead of flying off in tangents that have nothing to do with the business at hand.