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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear


I had a lot of time to kill at my last art event because I went down a day early to check out the gallery space for an upcoming show. This meant a lot of time just sitting around the hotel. So I decided to hit the local book store and see if anything appealed. I do tend to read … correction … buy, quite a few books on creativity. I’m not sure why. Sometimes they inspire me, mostly though they are a bit boring. Sort of regurgitating the same ideas in different voices. But I enjoy Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Super Soul Sunday programming and she recently interviewed Elizabeth Gilbert and talked a little about this book.

I’d like to say that she was so inspirational and I just had to run out and get it, but no. I was however … just a tiny bit … intrigued.

So I stood in the book store holding this book, pondering purchasing yet another book that I may or may not end up reading. I held this book in one hand and “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson* in the other. I went back and forth on it but in the end this is the one I walked out with.

Turns out I enjoyed much of it. I thought Gilbert really hit it on the nose with her no nonsense approach to what it is to live the creative life. I talk with a lot of aspiring artists and by that I mean those who want to take their hobby into a profession. But so many truly don’t understand what it takes, and how much you really have to want it. You have to love what you do so much that you’ll continue to do it no matter what. No matter if you work three jobs and can only create an hour a day and that hour is at 5 am.

She speaks of the paradox of being a creative. You need to believe your work is the most important thing yet know in the end it is not really important. It is absolutely meaningless and yet deeply meaningful at the same time. I mean lets face it my latest cow painting isn’t going to change the world, it’s not even going to change my life, but I must honor the creative spirit and endeavor to work on it as if it is of utmost importance and deserving of all of my efforts.

“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all … Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.”

She also talks about creativity as if it is a magical thing or spirit with it’s own agenda to make manifest its inspiration and that you need to build a relationship with, be open to and share a dialogue with. If you ignore this creative spirit it will take it’s inspiration elsewhere. Now that doesn’t mean that another creative inspiration won’t come your way but it’s up to you to act on it.

She speaks quite a bit about fear, which seems to be common theme in so many art books. Not something I personally struggle with when it come to the creativity end of thing but I got fears a plenty when it comes to paying my bills. There’s something about just trusting year after year that I will sell enough of my work to make it rewarding both financially and emotionally that is an act of courage for me. But if you do have fears regarding your art this book will go in deep with you and give you whatever permissions you think you might need to move forward.

“…if you can’t learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting. and that would be a pity because life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here.”

In the end it’s kind of a no nonsense guide and somewhat realistic look at living the life of creativity. I like that she doesn’t celebrate artists as particularly special, it’s simply something we have chosen to do. The magic happens when you connect to the universe (or God or the angels or your higher self. Whatever you prefer to call it …) and manifest an idea into reality.

Of the many books I’ve read on living the creative life, this has definitely been one of the most interesting, honest and enjoyable.

  • Jenny Lawson is one of my all time favorite bloggers who’s blog I’ve been reading for as long as I’ve been blogging. So for say 8 years now … She is a sensational writer and a New York Times Best Seller. She’s funny and real and tells it like it is no matter how crazy or painful. You can check her out here at The Bloggess

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