My sweet husband knows that gift buying for me is pretty easy when he enters our local bookstore. Somehow, he just so happened to walk in on the day when Elizabeth Gilbert was signing copies of Big Magic and since it was on my ‘to read’ list, he graciously waited in line and picked me up a signed copy for Christmas last year. I’m a little embarrassed that I’m just now getting to this review when this book has been in my hands for so long, but I had a few others to finish off first and I just can’t read more than two books at a time.
I’m excited to share my painting inspired by the book cover. This painting was challenging and I had to keep reminding myself that it doesn’t have to look exactly the same and it’s meant to be a loose interpretation inspired by the cover. The letters are always the most challenging part. We have a projector and they’re still hard to get right. Hand painted letters just aren’t as pristine and it looks a little more red where I wish it were pink, but I’m fairly happy with how this one turned out. So on to the review…
Author of the acclaimed Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert brings her unique perspective and wisdom on the subject of creativity and living a creative life. I LOVED the premise of this book and couldn’t wait to dive in. This book is such an easy and fast read, but the thing I appreciated most is that Gilbert is a best-selling author writing about creativity from an author’s perspective. It seems like there is a ton of content out there on creativity from painters and other creative professionals, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of an author offering her two cents on the subject. Being a writer myself, I loved feeling like I relate to everything she said as it was written.
Gilbert has a way of taking really profound and ethereal concepts and making them accessible. She describes creative ideas as their own entities that are floating around looking for a human host to carry them out. I liked thinking of creativity like this and it stirred up my imagination in a way that made me feel excited to reach up and grab ideas as they came to me.
I appreciated hearing Gilbert’s stories of failure and learning as she shares her own creative journey. I found myself highlighting and underlining key concepts that I found to ring truth to me. This book is exactly what I needed to hear at this time in my own personal creative voyage. Her words of encouragement were just the stepping-stones I needed to make big decisions and giant leaps of faith. I felt like she was giving me permission to move forward when I didn’t even know I was standing still. She seems to have hit all the reasons that people don’t create and completely crushes them. I’m not original enough. I’m not an artist. My art isn’t that important. I don’t have a degree. I’ve already hit my pique of success. Gilbert doesn’t buy any of these excuses. She gives short bursts of wisdom like “done is better than good” and “no one is thinking about you.” She dispels the idea of the suffering artist and encourages us all to take great joy in our art. She even dispels the idea that the only time making art is worth it is if you can make money or do your art full time. I’ve spent an unreasonable amount of time meditating, reading and thinking about that very issue, that I found her words to pierce right through me and give me what I needed to finally believe and accept what I already knew to be true. She offers perspective on failure, fear, and persistence in a way that feels like your cool aunt who is giving you advice on boys while she paints your nails. Conversational and littered with intentional examples to prove that she struggles or has struggled with the same things you’re fighting.
Gilbert explores some concepts that do have to be taken with a grain of salt, but for the most part I wasn’t put off as some other readers were. For me, she successfully takes her own opposing viewpoints into account and seems to thrive in the contradictions. She is an advocate for creativity and believes that everyone has the capacity and right to be creative. I would recommend that every artist, writer, and person who is otherwise interested in exploring his or her creativity pick up this book.
I’d love to know if you read it and what you thought. If you’re on Goodreads, you can find me here.