Discover: Big Magic
I’m not sure about you, but the books I read become a part of me. Anyone who knows me well knows that I read a lot and knows that I refer to the things I’ve read and watched in most conversations we have. I like to read things that speak to my soul, that surprise me, and that captivate my attention. I’m always sharing my favorite things from these teachers of mine, so I thought I’d do that here as well. This is the second in my Discovery series, and this time I just finished reading Big Magic. (Also, I’m keeping the latest book I’m reading over on the sidebar on my blog.)
Big Magic is a book for creators which really means it’s a book for anyone because the truth is that we are all innately creative creatures. But this book is really for you if you struggle with your creativity, if you think your creativity needs to be your bread and butter, and it’s very much for you if your fear is holding you back from making. I’m not going to give you an overview of what this book is about, though. You can read book reviews and listen to interviews with Elizabeth Gilbert for that. I’m just going to share the parts of the book that hit me, that made an eyebrow or two raise. And for each of you those parts are going to be different depending where you’re at. This is it for me, and maybe you can relate.
- People who criticize your art
Your art is for you. It’s something that you make because it satisfies a deep desire within you. You are the only person who must live with the art you create. It’s not your problem what other people think. Or in Elizabeth Gilbert’s words, “What if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? Just smile sweetly and suggest — as politely as you possibly can — that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”
- Who are you when the going gets tough?
So many of us want so badly for things to be good all the time. We think things are supposed to be good all the time and when they don’t feel good than we think something is wrong. It’s easy to be delighted and full of gratitude when the going is great, but the reality is that life itself is that swinging of good to bad to bland to whatever else may come and then back again. Gilbert says, “You don’t get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living.” (Also, this comes packaged in a chapter called The Shit Sandwich; it’s a fun book.)
- Creativity requires sacrifice
People give up other things for their creativity. They don’t have more time than other people, they don’t have more energy than other people, but they are willing to sacrifice other things to devote themselves to their art.
- Perfectionism is bullshit
I love this chapter. I have always felt the deep desire to roll my eyes when people begin talking about how they are perfectionists, something that feels like a great waste of time and talent to me. As eloquently stated by Gilbert, “I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear. I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, “I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.”
- Nobody’s Thinking About You
Liz met a woman in her seventies who said this, “We all spend our twenties and thirties trying so hard to be perfect, because we’re so worried about what people will think of us. Then we get into our forties and fifties, and we finally start to be free, because we decide that we don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us. But you won't be completely free until you reach your sixties and seventies, when you finally realize this liberating truth — nobody was ever thinking about you, anyhow.”
- And for the one that gave me all the chills
Elizabeth Gilbert is a beautiful storyteller, and there are a few favorites I’m leaving out. But if you aren’t going to read the book or you just want to feel how miraculous the universe is head over to my Periscope (Periscope is a new livestreaming app. Find me under @pushingbeauty.) where you can watch the replay where I’ve shared my favorite story from Big Magic.