My first exposure to Elizabeth Gilbert was when I read The Signature of All Things for our book club a while back; however, unlike millions of people, I have never read her memoir, Eat Pray Love, which is by far her most popular work. My introduction to Big Magic was seeing Gilbert interviewed on MarieTV, a web show hosted by Marie Forleo (who is one of my most favorite people on the whole Internet – any other MarieTV fans out there?). People adore Eat Pray Love and connect with it on a deeply personal level, but I didn’t feel any type of connection with her going into the interview. She was just a lady who wrote a book I read once for book club. After watching that interview the connection was easy to understand. She is so beautifully insightful, smart, and grounded. I knew right away I would need to read Big Magic.
Title: Big Magic
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Published: September 22, 2015
Format I Read: Hardback
Synopsis: Elizabeth Gilbert gives us an insight into her thoughts, views, and theories on creative living. She shares anecdotes from her own creative process as well as stories of how others live a creative life. It is part inspiration and part advice for anyone looking to add more creativity to their lives.
Thoughts: I LOVE THIS BOOK. Seriously, I cannot make those words big enough to convey my love for it. I checked this book out from the library, and as soon as I can, I will be buying my own copy to read again (and again and again) with highlighter and pen close at hand. Big Magic’s subtitle is Creative Living Beyond Fear and that elegantly portrays the essence of the book. Gilbert writes in earnest about living a creative life: what it takes, the ups and downs, and how to do it while keeping your sanity.
The book is split into five main sections (Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, and Trust) that follow the path of living a creative life Liz Gilbert-style. Courage is about just that, drumming up the guts to be creative, to be willing to make something new in this world be it writing, painting, dancing, quilting, you name it, despite fear, and at times, along with fear. Enchantment is about Gilbert’s belief in how inspiration comes to the creative person. She believes ideas come and go as they please and are actively looking for creators who are willing to work with them. I love this theory. I adore the idea that inspiration is out there waiting for the right person and the right time, and that if you are willing to commit to the idea and put in the work that the idea is willing to commit to you. Permission deals with giving yourself the permission to create despite what you or anyone else might think or say. Gilbert talks in the Persistence section about the path she took to get where she is now. She tells us that creating is not always easy, but if you love it, it pays to be persistent. Trust is about believing in the creative process and allowing yourself enjoy it. She speaks fervently about not falling prey to the “suffering artist” stereotype. She believes that creativity doesn’t want you to be miserable and that you don’t have to jeopardize your sanity in order to create.
All the sections are moving and inspiring for different reasons. Courage especially resonated with me as did Permission. It’s true that we sometimes think “I’m not ready” or “I’m not qualified” when really we are just looking for excuses. I enjoy painting. I have no formal skills and can only paint abstracts, but I still enjoy it. The act of putting color to canvas is simply fun. However, I struggled with permission. I’d never painted before. I hadn’t taken an art class since middle school. Who was I to Paint? Thankfully, my sensible husband said “Who cares? None of that matters. If you want to paint, just paint.” And I did! Did it belong in a museum? Absolutely not. But did I love doing it and was that love enough? Yes! Hopefully for people who don’t have a sensible spouse around, Big Magic can show them that permission is our own to give.
Interwoven with her tips and advice are delightful stories about her own life and the lives of her friends that illustrate her points. Reading Big Magic is like talking to a mentor who wants to encourage you, help you, and has faith in you. Gilbert never takes herself or her work too seriously but at the same time she believes in it with all her heart. Her playful reverence for creativity shines through on every page. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has created, is creating, or has ever thought about creating. It will inspire you to go create no matter what you think stands in your way, and Liz Gilbert will be there by your side, cheering you along. Absolutely worth your reading time.