Creative Living – My thoughts on Big Magic
In a recent post I explored the idea of being a creative being, inspired of course by my reading of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. I had seen this book advirtised in the run into Christmas, boasting it to be by the author of best seller Eat, Pray, Love; now I never read Eat, Pray, Love, but I saw the film and so my initial reaction was that Big Magic was some fiction about love or magic, or both. It wasn’t until Essie Button mentioned the book in a video back in February that I became interested in reading it as it seemed perfectly fitting for me.
Big Magic is essentially about living creatively, specifically Gilbert’s personal experiences of living creatively, but more so about re-evaluating the way you look a creativity, inspiration and ideas.
Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us – albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner.
I love how Gilbert personifies the ‘idea’, inspiration and creativity in general throughout the novel; it’s quite humbling to stop thinking of creativity as something that we possess and rather as something that chooses to work with and through us, as if we are a host body for these ‘disembodied’ beings floating around the universe waiting to be realised into fruition.
For someone who is embarking on a creative project, this can be a freeing concept; I’m sure I’m not the only one who has held myself back from attempting certain things or defying an urge within me to try something new, simply because I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough and that there were others, far more blessed with talent than I, who would be better suited for such pursuits. However, if I choose to accept Gilbert’s hypothesis on inspiration, then I should feel honoured that what ever idea I am presented with is one that chose me, and that all I can do is attempt with my best ability to have it come to life through whatever media that may be.
creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that – merely by being here – you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.
The whole book has a sense of liberation about it, not that Gilbert encourages you quit your day job to follow your passion for finger painting, or whatever your creative pursuits are; instead she liberates you from the idea that you need to suffer for your art, that you need to sacrifice one part of your life in order to find success in creative endeavours, or that you even need to find success and recognition in order for creative living to be anything meaningful. Instead of these constricting ideas, she encourages you to consider creativity as an essential part of what makes you human, to find happiness in it and from it and to never be ashamed of what ever gets you fired up.
I am a constituent of this universe. I have invisible spirit benefactors who believe in me, and who labour alongside me. The fact that I am here at all is evidence that I have a right to be here. I have a right to my own voice and a right to my own vision. I have a right to collaborate with creativity, because I myself am a product and a consequence of Creation.
Big Magic is not a self-help book, nor a step-by-step guide on how to find success from creative living, or even how to connect with creativity and inspiration; Big Magic is a philosophy in it’s own right which you can either choose to embrace or argue that it’s an idea pulled out of thin air. However this book resonated with me and so many experiences in my life suddenly made sense; all the frustration I had been feeling before reading this book also made sense, it wasn’t caused by entrapment, but rather by these ideas that have been trying to persuade me to make them manifest. I think the biggest revelation that I gained from this book was a sense of entitlement, permission even, to create simply because it’s something that drives the very nature of who I am, and I don’t have to explain it or give reason for it to anyone else because I can’t even fully understand it myself; I just know that creating makes me happy and not creating leaves me empty.
Creative living doesn’t need justifying, it’s something that we do as humans, that we have done for centuries, probably since the beginning of our existence; it’s something that we don’t fully understand the necessity of and don’t need to because that’s what makes it so compelling and irresistible.
Best of all, at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir – something that you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration.
Buy Big Magic, by E. Gilbert here.