I was thrilled when Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert was released. It arrived on my doorsteps in all its hardback gorgeousness and I dove right in, reading the whole thing over the course of two days during a vacation. Eat, Pray, Love never hit me with the magic that it affected so many other people with but I fell in love with Gilbert's Ted Talk about muses and creativity.
The first time I heard her talk, I rolled my eyes and snorted at her discussion of magic. It all sounded too abstract for me. The second time, I listened a little closer and found her saying a lot of things I agreed with. I don't know if I will ever 100% agree with everything she says but I do really like several of her points and I couldn't wait to have a longer chance to hear about her ideas. Big Magic is that longer discussion I was waiting for.
Gilbert believes in both the magic and the work of a creative life. What I found most refreshing was her belief that having a job to support your creative habit is not some shameful thing but is instead a vital and important part of the creative life. Not starving is always a nice bonus.
It's interesting to hear about her own struggles, worries and challenges with writing. We tend to think of someone like her, who had a smash hit, as a success and that's it, but the pressure of following up on such a success could easily swallow her whole, Gilbert doesn't let it and keeps working, chasing after the ideas that touch her hand and ask to be taken along.
My favorite story in the entire book is the idea of the rain forest story that jumped from her to Ann Patchett with a kiss. I've had a similar thing happen and at first, felt betrayed that my idea had been stolen, but the truth is, that idea was no more mine than the air I breathe. It's something I touched, loved and held onto but not something I had any claim on.
I found Big Magic incredible reassuring about the entire creative process. No matter how analytical or practical you get about writing (or any creative endeavor) there will always be a piece of magic to it, a diving into the unknown, grasping, hoping and knowing that something is going to grab back. That's why I keep creating, the magic that bites back and holds tight to my skin, driving me to work.
If you're looking to learn about other creative's processes, reassurance you're not crazy, or just a blunt, honest look at writing, I think Big Magic is an excellent addition to your library and a great book to grab when you need a pick me up and a reminder that to create is to commit to making (and being a part of) magic.
You can buy Big Magic here.