Nope, I wasn’t in a rush at all — not because I didn’t want to read the book… I did! But I couldn’t see how this self help on creativity would resonate with me — not because I don’t value creativity… I do! But because I’m not an author. Or a painter. Or even a designer, dancer or musician. I never considered myself an artist. And I’m not really feeling stuck these day. A book on how to get back to your art didn’t call my name.
But I adore Elizabeth Gilbert so I decided to give it a shot. I added my name to the 473 person waitlist at NYPL.
That was about 2 months ago. Last week, my turn arrived to read Big Magic.
Except there’s a caveat. I wasn’t going to be able to read it. I somehow, by accident, signed up for the audio book.
Okay, whatever, I figured, I’ll approach it like all the podcasts I listen to and love. I’ll pop it on before I bed and hear how it goes.
Immediately, I was hooked.
First off, have you ever listened to an audio book before? One that is read by the author? Is this how all audiobooks work? Because it’s fantastic! It was as if Elizabeth Gilbert was right there in the room with me! PLUS, I was able to listen way more frequently than if I had to find time to sit down and read. I had it on my phone which meant I could take it with me on the bus, walking to yoga, on the train, and yes, while dozing off to sleep. I got through its entirety in 4 days! Never have I plowed through a book that fast when reading!
But back to the topic — creativity. Ms. Gilbert defines it as the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.
She treats inspiration as a living entity. Something to be revered – yes. Yet also to be invited. In one section she speaks about dressing up with lipstick and perfume before sitting down to write.
Inspiration plants hidden jewels deep within each one of us, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels, that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place, that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one. The often surprising results of that hunt — that’s what I call Big Magic.
So, this self help on creativity is not only for the artists of the world who are seeking a pulitzer prize, the Oscar, or a gig at Carnegie Hall. She wants all of us to live creatively which means to lead a life driven by curiosity instead of fear.
The book is made up of rich anecdotes to support its themes – courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust and divinity.
Listening to Liz Gilbert share her stories is incredibly engaging. She speaks as if she’s in intimate conversation with a dear friend, and perhaps she does consider her readers dear friends. Her language includes words like duh and dude alongside elegant descriptors and poetic phrasing. She keeps coming back to this idea of stubborn gladness. Obviously, the NY Times bestselling author is a solid writer. She’s also a captivating speaker.
There are so many valuable takeaways from Big Magic:
The paradox of making great work — giving it your all, yet realizing it’s not important.
Being able to let go of perfectionism — just do the work, get it done.
And staying curious. No matter how lightly an interest whispers, follow through to see where it goes.
She also gets into matters of the soul. In fact, spirituality is threaded throughout the entire premise which is probably what resonated with me most…
Pursuing your creativity is a spiritual practice.
What do you think of Big Magic?
(Image found on Elizabeth Gilbert’s instagram via Helen Treuel).