A conversation about my book, Dancing with the Gods: Reflections on Life and Art

Books come into the world in different ways. Some come in announcing themselves and beating a drum, others enter the room quietly, take their seat, and wait to be called upon. Dancing with the Gods is one of the quiet ones.

When I was writing Dancing with the Gods, the publisher and editor kept wanting a more celebratory, anthemic book about the significance of the arts.

I resisted.

“No,” I said, “This is a reflective book for the artist — particularly the young artist — who wants to know about the unspoken and often unrecognized issues of living the creative life.” I actually wanted the subtitle to be, “The hidden joys and unseen challenges of a life in the arts”.

Now that the book is out, it is making its way just as I suspected it would — as a quiet companion, an intimate guidebook for those on the artistic journey.

I know this book. I know its heart. My old friend, David Crumm, who writes the highly respected online journal, Read the Spirit, saw that heart and engaged me in a conversation about the book. You can read some of our conversation here: https://www.readthespirit.com/explore/master-spiritual-guide-kent-nerburn-lights-up-the-new-year-with-an-invitation-for-creative-pilgrims/

As you probably know by now, I am one of the worst authors on the planet in terms of self-promotion which, sadly, is much of the lifeblood of the contemporary publishing industry. For me, the books are the thing, not the author behind them. So I don’t do well going out in front and functioning as a literary carnival barker. I leave it to you to find my books and to decide whether or not they touch you in some way.

But I do want to raise the flag for Dancing with the Gods. If you practice any of the creative arts, or if you have a friend or son or daughter who aspires to be an artist, you should take a look at this book and pass it along. It will be worth your while.

5 thoughts on “A conversation about my book, Dancing with the Gods: Reflections on Life and Art”

  1. Have the book. Got it from your sisters. Will read it on our California journey at the end of this month. I am an “old” artist, but am guessing Dancing with the Gods will speak to me. I’m also guessing that our wives could argue about which of us is worse at self promotion.

  2. Here’s my generic pitch: “I’ve just written this book. It could have been a lot better, but this is as good as I could get it. I don’t much like the title and there are a lot of things I’d like to change. You probably don’t want to read it, anyway. I hate taking up your time, but I thought I’d leave you a copy in case you want to, like, put it in your bathroom or somewhere.”

    See if your wife recognizes that voice.

  3. Well, for me anyway, your explanation nevertheless just convinced me to get a copy of your book and read it. Your explanation got me interested both for myself and my kids and it sounds to me like the book has a lot to say about the human condition in general. For this book, I think the title misled me a bit. The word “god” always throws me off kilter for a hundred reasons I’ll never understand. Yes, it did seem a bit academic to me until reading this post.

    As for self promotion, you are a very fine speaker and conversationalist and that is how I personally enjoy learning about books to read or ideas to explore. I would sure love to hear you speak in interviews and the like. Your repertoire of books is quite vast and I would really enjoy hearing about them all, old, new and yet to come. So, if you have the time and inclination…


  4. With your magnificent books, your readers do a lot of promotion. For those of us find ourselves re-reading them, we always know some friends who will find immense pleasure in them, and pass them on. Often we buy new copies to pass on, as no one gets our copies. And we learn more, discover things we missed each time we re-read. Great books by great authors are like that. Your books feed the soul. I’ve found explanations for some things about my life in your books. Please never stop!

  5. Well it seems to me that you are right about one thing, you are a terrible self publist if there is such a word, but the way you communicate about the way native Americans have been treated and the way you weave the stories of the wisdom of the First Nations people into your prose is simply magical. You have been chosen to perform this task from the ancestors like some of the subjects in your books. We have reached a time in history that was predicted by many Native American wisdom keepers when indigenous and non indigenous would come together to heal the planet and I believe your books and descriptions help a lot of non indigenous get a greater understanding. Please, keep writing and I look forward to reading your next masterpiece

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