I’ve been hearing wonderful things about Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic” ever since it came out, and since I’ve read and loved her memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” and her novel “The Signature of All Things”, it was time to finally get to it.
And I’m so glad I did. In this highly readable and entertaining book, Gilbert shares her personal philosophy about living a creative life, whether it’s writing, art, music, crafts, or any other way of “making things.”
The book is divided into six parts entitled Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. In each, as you might imagine, she talks about the fear that keeps us from creating (the fear of, well, just about everything); of giving ourselves permission to create, to diligently keep at it, to trust in the process, and that more than a little bit of grace may be involved.
She holds it all together with her idea of “Big Magic”. Quite simply, Gilbert believes that ideas are alive; they are energetic life forms that swirl around us all the time. She believes that ideas want to be made manifest, specifically through us. If we open ourselves to these ideas-with the above-mentioned tools and tricks of courage, permission, persistence, and trust-amazing things can happen. She’s not suggesting that we just sit and wait for the idea to enter us like a bolt of lightning (see my post from yesterday about “inspiration”); rather, that through hard work and a trust in the process, an idea may decide to come alive through us.
Sound a little wacky? Maybe, but she has some impressive examples of how this has happened to her in her own life-not only the hits, but also the misses. Sometimes an idea decides to pass you by and be conceived through someone else. That’s okay. Go on to the next project, keep creating, be open and generous and enjoy the process (you hear that? Have fun!). She debunks the myth of the tortured artist, and suggests that, yes, you can actually enjoy making art, and that it is its own reward.
Gilbert is a wonderful storyteller, and she weaves a bit of her own magic here in this book. I soaked it up like a parched rag. If you’re feeling a bit parched for some wise advice on living the creative life, I suggest you read this book.