Apologies for the posting delay (and apologies if I said that in my last post as well). Things have been busy and I’ve had trouble working out a posting schedule, but starting next week, I’m planning on beginning to adhere to my New Year’s Resolution and posting a new review every Monday, and a bonus review every other Wednesday, we’ll see how it goes.
SPEAKING of resolutions, the book I’m writing about today is perfect for those of you who may have been a bit too busy or had a few too many delicious leftover treats lying around from the holidays to start your juicing/yoga/meditation/career-advancing/weight lifting/sugar-free [Choose Your Own Failed Resolution Adventure, really] lifestyle in 2016 as planned.
Those of you who read at all are likely familiar with the name Elizabeth Gilbert. Actually, those of you who know who Julia Roberts is [probably everyone? I just asked my 15 year-old brother if he did, who said “I’ve heard her name in the 22 Jump Street slam poetry scene”] may also be familiar with her – Roberts played her in the film adaption of her major bestseller Eat Pray Love. If I’m being honest, I didn’t read Eat Pray Love because my mom hated it intensely and assured me it was a waste of time. I was pleased to find that Elizabeth Gilbert acknowledged her EPL haters [@Lindy] towards the beginning of this this book. She made clear from the beginning that none of the self-pity that so many readers and reviewers had trouble identifying with would be absent from this book.
“This book” is called Big Magic, and I’ll admit I was initially enticed by the cover, which is magical indeed. Once I began the book, though, I found myself entirely absorbed, a small feat for me when it comes to ‘self-improvement’ books [full post on others I have read and loved to come]. Big Magic is about “creative living beyond fear,” and what I liked most about it was that it didn’t cater directly to creative professionals. I’ve always considered myself creative [and if you don’t, read more fiction, and you will begin to conjure the powers of creativity], but I don’t currently work in a profession that requires any creativity at all. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy what I do, but I am certainly not creatively fulfilled by it. It’s a common stereotype in our generation that you MUST be ‘fulfilled’ by your job, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book made no efforts to convince the reader of this truth. In fact, Big Magic asserts the opposite; Liz Gilbert herself held day jobs even after publishing three books; it was only when Eat Pray Love took off that she began to pursue writing as a professional career. Gilbert claims that in order to be truly creative, you can’t rely on your creativity to pay the bills – it creates stressful energy that ultimately blocks you from accessing creativity. Of all the revelations in the book, this was my favorite.
The book is divided into six parts, each one of them detailing a specific aspect of creativity: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. My favorite chapter was “Enchantment,” in which Gilbert theorizes that ideas do not come to be in an individual mind, but instead circulate around the universe, until they find a person that is fit to execute; an idea can ‘visit’ many people, who may dismiss, until it ends up in the lap of someone who is truly excited about it, and begins building upon it. That’s why, Gilbert says, so many people claim that some billion dollar idea was theirs; the idea may have visited them, but the fact that they didn’t latch onto it proves that it wasn’t meant to be.
This may sound a little new-agey, but the way Gilbert describes it, and the fascinating personal anecdote she chooses to accompany the theory, render it entirely believable. The rest of the book is chock full of similar revelations; ones you initially balk at, but then, after taking a bit more time to consider them, realize their potential validity. I
As I’m nearing the end of this post, I now realize that I didn’t tell you how to be creative. You want to know why? Because Elizabeth Gilbert doesn’t tell you how to either. She simply helps bring you to the optimal state of mind for creative inspiration; a bit of mental feng shui, if you will. And, a few weeks after having read the book, I’m still applying lessons from it to my life whenever and wherever I can. Big Magic at work!