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Big Magic - Book Review

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by Claudia Bianchi (subscribe)
A Brisbane-based writer who enjoys discovering good food experiences, great coffee and fun events. Subscribe and we will keep you posted on what's happening in your city.
Published July 2nd 2016
Creative Living Beyond Fear - By Elizabeth Gilbert
book review, big magic, creative living, living beyond fear, fear, creativity, writing, writers, Elizabeth gilbert
Big Magic - Creative Living Beyond Fear

Every once in a while a book will come along that moves you in such a way that you simply must talk about it.

I didn't go out looking for it but none the less 'Big Magic' by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of 'Eat, Pray, Love', spiralled into my stratosphere.

Now if you follow me at all you will know that I am one of those ridiculously busy people. This book however just kept staring at me until thankfully I allowed myself to be absorb by it.

After reading this book I feel it is safe to say Liz and I are friends. I wouldn't normally dare call someone I haven't so much had a coffee with in such a familiar way but, how else would you describe someone who knows you so well?

Of course I only feel that way because Big Magic reads like having a conversation with a friend. Elizabeth comes across as honest, witty and inspiring. (Interesting fact: Her voice surprising sounds a lot like my own...)

What I mostly loved about this book was her delicious view on how ideas come to be and our part in this wondrous dance of creativity.

Big Magic is about creative living, about choosing it and making room for it and facing the fears that come along with it.

Liz (You should probably call her Elizabeth until you have read the book) describes ideas as living entities that fly around the universe looking for a creative host.

When you accept the idea it stays with you. If you neglect the idea and do nothing with it, it of course leaves you. It is after all a good idea and therefore worthy of a dedicated host.

Which makes sense because if you're not going to take the idea seriously then the idea is smart enough to know it has to move on if it ever wants to come into fruition. She explains the magic of it far more eloquently than I do but that is the gist.

Now be honest. Isn't that the craziest yet at the same time the most perfect thing you have ever heard?

The book also addresses creative livings biggest obstacle - fear. The serial killer of so many dreams and brilliant ideas.

When it comes to fears one thing you will always hear me say is 'My fear is my fear and your fear is your fear'.

I don't believe it's fair to judge the veracity of someone's fear because it is simply not your own and we all deal with it in our own way.

Liz talks about fear being like a member of the family, sitting in the back seat of the car during a road trip. She addresses fear as she distributes the passenger's roles and road trip responsibility's.

I am going to have to leave a little excerpt of it here because her wisdom on this matter is gift that needs to be passed around and not just to writers but to everyone in the creative realm.

Yes, I mean you, painter, singer, actor, illustrator, gardener, chef, dancer, musician, make-up artist and well the list goes on but mainly know I mean YOU.

"Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you'll be joining us, because you always do.... Understand this:

Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way.

I recognise and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you for our activities, but still - your suggestions will never be followed.

You're allowed to have a seat, and you're allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote.

You're not allowed to touch the road maps: you're not allowed to suggest detours; you're not allowed to fiddle with the temperature.

Dude you're not even allowed to touch the radio!

But above all else, my dear old familiar friend you are absolutely forbidden to drive."

You will notice that there were no linguistic gymnastics, she doesn't try to trick fear away or kick fear out of the car. She just spoke to it like a member of the family, or a part of her being.

It is part of us and the more we struggle against it the more time we waste and the less progress we make so she just gave it some rules. Do your job but be assured that I will do mine. Simple.

In saying all the above, the book isn't perfect, there are parts that she contradicts herself and the Debbie Downers of this world will find these and no doubt magnify, record and play the negativity on loop on every radio station until the end of time.

That's kind of their job, like fear they are good at their role and they are constant and mostly disheartening.

I don't believe life is black and white. We need to allow for some paradoxes. You can be afraid of things but not a fearful person, it's called being brave. You can feel strongly about your process and still learn a trick or two from a successful author.

Big Magic shows us that ' Creativity is sacred, and it is not. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.'

Liz doesn't pretend to have all the answers but she does inspire, she does understand the creative process and is pro creative living.

You may not like to hear that you can live a long creative life and not ever publish a best seller or possibly anything at all.

Gilbert isn't about to lie to you, being successful in any creative field is not impossible but she will tell you it is rare.

If your ego can't take that kind of blow don't read this book. But if you fly just under the clouds like the rest of us, what this book might help you recognise is that you are already winning if you are brave enough to allow yourself to live creatively.

It is about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear. Therefore, any creative outlet you enjoy whether you are successful or not, is not a consolation prize but the true adventure, the beautiful side of life. The real measure of success.

It's a book I recommend to anyone in pursuit of joyful creative living. Send it to your writer friend, the cool guy on the piano, the lady down the street that makes flowers out of pantyhose. Read it for the artist in you, you know he/she is in there somewhere.

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Why? Because you loved, Eat, Pray, Love.
When: Whenever you like
Where: Anywhere you like, my I suggest your sofa?
Cost: $29.99 from Dymocks
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