“I told the universe (and anyone who would listen) that I was committed to living a creative life not in order to save the world, not as an act of protest, not to become famous, not to gain entrance to the canon, not to challenge the system, not to show the bastards, not to prove to my family that I was worthy, not as a form of deep therapeutic emotional catharsis . . . but simply because I liked it.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic.
There’s Big Love in Big Magic, the new book by Elizabeth Gilbert, love of work, love of mucking around in the primordial soup of creativity, and love of manifesting into being that which makes your Soul sing. Why? Because you can. Because you have to. Because you, and sometimes the world, are waiting for it. Because being human means bringing your gifts to market whether someone wants to buy them or not, whether anyone notices or not, or whether anyone else who is not you thinks those gifts are a waste time or not. Big Magic says you must create because your DNA is hard-wired to create, and to deny genetics is to deny yourself. Big Magic is filled with lovely Gilbertian insights, the ones we wait for because we like the way she spins them, shining a light on the “aha” moments for us, the same moments we were reaching for, but weren’t quite able to grasp or bring into the light on our own. This is my third Liz Gilbert book and in some ways, it’s my favorite because, more than anything, it reminded me of my obligation to myself.
You all remember Liz. She’s the one who sold 12 million copies of a little book called Eat, Pray, Love by accident simply because she followed her heart along with the glow of an idea, the one that would make her — not the whole world, just her — whole. The book was honest and raw and full of self-analysis and grand truths that are indigenous to human nature, and repeatedly, people saw themselves in those pages. The books sold and sold, Oprah had her on the show, there was a movie with Julia Roberts, Liz became super famous, and in the process got herself right, and took at least a few of those 12 million people along with her. She had set out to do none of it except for the part where she made herself feel better. She wrote the book because she is a writer and that’s what writers do.
All awesome, right? Well, good luck, bad luck, who knows? A lesser person might be dismayed by the fact that none of her half a dozen other books, three of which were written following EPL, were not as successful — after all, 12 million is a bit of a hard number to top — but not Liz. Why? Ahem. Go back and read paragraph one, herein, please, or repeat after me: “I will follow my muse.” That’s it. Liz is still following her muse and a person in the muse’s thrall is a person on one fabulous joy ride. Many say, “you’re only as good as your last one,” but as Liz points out, to rest on the laurels of your “last one” simply because it was an amazing success is to fail to bring forth what you can, and have as an artist, agreed to bring forth. You continue to create even in the face of amazing, unbelievable, unprecedented everything-you-ever-dreamed-of-and-more success because there’s nothing else you can do. You take the job even if it means not living up to your own expectations or most brilliant version of yourself.
Well then, did I love Big Magic as much as EPL which was quite possibly in my top ten list of favorite books of all time? I think it’s like being asked to choose which of your kids you like best. You simply can’t because to do so would be a disservice to the family unit.
Feeling stuck in your creative practice? May I suggest a little book called Big Magic? Read it and I can pretty much guarantee you will reap big, creative, may I say magical, rewards.