BookWorm, Life

Big Magic (Liz Gilbert) 

2016, Bloomsbury, Pages: 276

This book is fantastic!!!

It has been quite a long time since I’ve since read a book, especially a self-help one at that which has affected me like this one has. Creativity is frustrating territory and Liz Gilbert has managed to tackle the subject with so much ease while hitting the topic bulls-eye. You may recognize that name from her book, Eat, Pray Love unless you’re like me and only know the movie. She does not shy away from the grit, the excitement, the pain, passion, depression, joy and frustration etc of what creatives or artists go through in pursuit of their craft. This book has been pure bliss for me. It’s not a book I’d have ever thought of buying for myself, not in a million years. The title, subject matter, and the cover weren’t grabbing enough for me to even consider it. Thanks to my lovely friend, Denise Cook who bought this book for me as my farewell present. So many times over I’ve received words from various unrelated people telling me I have a story to tell. People saying God had given me, some dare say ‘talent’ and that I needed to write.

Well, writing has always been something I’ve always loved and wanted to do from as far back as I can remember and that I was going to do in future. I express myself in the written word far better than orally anyway. The seed for reading and writing was planted by my parents who are avid readers. As much as I agreed with the sentiments people had towards me about writing, somehow the way stories unfolded in my head didn’t translate as I had wanted them on paper. I’d read what I had written and then be discouraged by the flow / lack of and then completely abandon the idea because it was clear the book wouldn’t win a Pulitzer Prize. Liz addresses this pressure we put on ourselves so elaborately clear. This pressure can suppress our creativity and inspiration because when the goal is to write a number 1 New York best seller, although noble an ambition, the result can be that the process of writing offers no joy anymore which is why we do it in the first place. We create because it brings us joy and when we are joyful, we wish to share it with others. Another hot topic she challenges is one of leaning entirely on our creative abilities to create wealth. She says that if we expect to make a living out of our passions / areas of creativity, often times we put too much pressure on ourselves and our artistry and demand that it pay our bills and make us millionaires which can be a huge burden. I love how she practically shares how she got to write her first works while she worked as a waitress and other professions. It wasn’t after Eat, Pray, Love, her 4th book that she managed to be able to write full-time. If we become millionaires out of it, great, but sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Unless it is something you love doing even without payment, maybe consider another profession. The journey of the creative artist is neither smooth nor easy. This book is honest and direct about this and is literally filled with many ‘Aha’ moments.

One of the reasons I have delayed to publish my first novel / anthology of short stories as planned is because as I grew older and read others’ work, I talked myself out of writing anything for public consumption. Instead of providing inspiration, others’ work brought torture and feelings of inadequacy. There was no way I could claim to write when the likes of Arundathi Royi, Fred Khumalo, Chinua Achebe, Nadine Gordimer and Liz Gilbert could write sentences that leave you literally gasping for air and questioning your own abilities, I thought. Needless to say, what this book did for me was give me permission to be free and to be me without the stress of wanting to be like another person or trying to emulate what another person has done. It has helped me embrace the uniqueness that is me and that just as one gets better by doing, I can’t hope to grow a muscle I refuse to exercise. Beyond talent comes discipline and the perseverance to continue to even during the dry spells.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to all creatives and artists. I am now finally going to finish my book and have it published – Finish and Klaar!


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