Have you heard of Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel, set to be released by Riverhead Books in September of this year? It’s called “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” and I’m getting pulled in by the premise of the book. Now, the publishers haven’t disclosed a lot of information yet, but I watched Gilbert’s TED talk and that gave me a glimpse into her overarching message. That in turn sent me on an introspective journey of sorts regarding my own creative past, namely my writing.
I used to write constantly in college, compulsively jotting down thoughts and poems and ideas. I carried around various journals and would get my thoughts down whenever and wherever they struck, including sitting at a traffic light. When I gave over to the overwhelming energy that pushed me to get these thoughts out of my head and onto the paper, I felt energized, content and whole. I was happy with creating something (even if many of the musings I thought were so profound and earth-shattering at the time were upon review the mundane musings that most early-20-somethings have thought at one time or another).
The compulsion to write felt good then. It felt pure and emotional and worthwhile. I felt overtaken by ideas and driven to make sense of them on paper. I played with words, with imagery and colors. I was proud of that part of myself. But over time I talked myself out of transcribing my musings and now, like yoga, I think with fond regret of how good the practice makes me feel and how I am a better person when I take the time to do it, all while walking away from the yoga mat and pen as quickly as I can. Why is that? Is there an element of fear there?
This is where “Big Magic” becomes relevant. (The book isn’t even out yet and already I feel like it’s an inspiration and a guide of sorts even though at this point it’s just my own interpretation of a patchwork of quotes). To me, “Big Magic” promises the idea that not all of the responsibility for creating something big, something life changing and worthwhile and important and amazing is mine. That there is a divinity of sorts, or “other-wordly” nature to creativity that brings an undercurrent of inspiration, of contribution, and that adds to my own creative energy to lift up a project and make it great. The concept promises to get me out of my own head and places some of the responsibility on an idea/energy/source outside myself, which relieves the pressure just a bit. It promises to give me space to breathe, space in which to relax and create and just see what happens without being so attached to an outcome and without feeling like the obstacles standing in the way of something good (or even great?) are insurmountable.
“Big Magic” is an exciting concept and I am so looking forward to regaining a bit of that “must write now, it’s important; I’m important” feeling. Elizabeth Gilbert and her publisher, Riverhead Books, are giving away some creatively-inspired gifts when you pre-order the book so I went ahead and did it. I’ve never pre-ordered a book before, nor have I spent this much time thinking about a book that isn’t even out yet… Yesterday, the first gift arrived, a series of postcards with quotes from the book:
And here’s a video showing the creation of the book cover. It’s as inspired as Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing.