Last week I finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert's (author of Eat, Pray, Love) new book Big Magic. Already I want to read it again. As Marie Forleo says, "every human being should read this book." Agreed. So, go get the book. In the meanwhile, here's a few things that really stood out to me.
If You're Alive You're a Creative Person. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people tell me I'm creative, but they're not. I call bullshit. Elizabeth Gilbert does too. If you're alive, you're a creative person. Maybe you don't write music, or books, or paint, but that does not mean you are not creative. I truly believe we were born to create, all of us. Yes, I have cultivated creativity in my life and made a conscious choice to hone the craft that chose me, which happens to be writing. Once you start digging in your own life, you might be surprised what you find.
I Want to Live My Life Collaborating With the Forces of Inspiration. I intend to spend the rest of my life following the trail of magic, and collaborating with these forces of Inspiration. I love the word "collaborate", because it speaks of a partnership. And I LOVE the idea of partnering with Inspiration on this journey. I have found when I am working on my books, I am not writing the story, the story is writing me. I sit down and ask what the story has to tell me today. As I am faithful, so is Inspiration. I have two novels in progress, and Inspiration has dumped a third one in my lap. I don't need to understand Inspiration, or even prove it exists. It simply is. I think our world is dying for lack of inspiration and magic, so I intend to be one of those who lives on the fringes of imagination, welcoming Inspiration into my life and creating space for it in my world and the world at large.
You're Own Reasons to Make Art are Enough. I don't need anyone's permission to make art, which for me, is writing. And neither do you. If you want to make it, do it! It doesn't really matter what anyone thinks anyway. Would I love to be a NY Times best-selling author? Of course! Am I going to quit writing if I'm not? Never. I hope I'm writing novels when I'm 90 years old. Writing is work, but I believe it is the work I am meant to do, and that is good enough. So, do it I will, regardless of the outcome. I cannot control the outcome anyway.
If I'm Not Creating, I'm Probably Destroying Something. I am inclined to think that all of the world's horribly addictive behaviors might be alleviated if people were creating more. There are a million ways to be blacked out of life, asleep and unaware, because one does not wish to be present in their current reality. Not just drugs and alcohol, but food, sex, money, work....and I could go on. I think these behaviors are a sign of acting out because we are not creating. We reach for the bottle instead of the page, the pill instead of the piano. Creating drama in our lives, instead of drama on the page, as Julia Cameron says. I know this to be true in my own life. If I don't write daily, I get angsty and antsy and then I start creating all kinds of ridiculous scenarios in my mind, including and not limited to the fact I might just end up homeless, and then I want to eat an entire box of donuts and binge-watch Netflix. Once I put pen to the page, I settle right down and my mood does a 180. Those things that seemed to be looming on the horizon are dissipated into mist once I start creating.
If People Don't Like What You're Creating... This is probably my favorite. And I am completely unapologetic about the profanity. People love to criticize, love to tear down, love to do anything to keep you on their level so they don't have to be faced with the fact that Inspiration might be trying to get their attention too. I wish everyone would go "make their own fucking art". I think the world would be a much better place. We get all serious about it, but the very fact that I can sit down with paper and a pen and create a world out of my own mind is amazing! My brother puts on paper or canvas (or sometimes whatever he can find) the images in his mind with pens and inks and paints. One of my very best friends records the melodies and words that come to her in song on the piano, the guitar or ukulele. My Dad has self-published four books. Four! And he's got another story in the works. What an incredible gift!!! And the coolest part is, we've all got it! I think Inspiration is just waiting for us to say yes.
One last thing...if you are thinking about creating something, do it! You know all the times you say, "Hey, I had that thought" ? Start acting on it. If you say no, or ignore the idea long enough, the idea will then move on and find someone else who can bring it to out into the world. Ideas are waiting to be born, according to Miss Gilbert, and they will find someone else. Will it be easy? Hell no. Will it be the best time of your life? Absolutely. So go create something!