So the other week someone lent me a copy of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was told that I should really read it and the person lending it to me certainly got me interested, telling me snippets of Gilbert’s view on creativity. I have never read any of Gilbert’s other works (fiction and non-fiction) and have not seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love the adaption of her wildly successfully novel of the same name. That sort of story doesn’t usually resonate with me. That’s not to say they are not good stories, I just usually don’t gravitate to real life novels. It usually takes someone shoving it in my face and demanding I read it.
Like with this one. Jade, the friend who lent Big Magic to me, had spoken of it before and was telling me more about it at lunch just over a week ago. I said I was interested in it and I genuinely was, although I would have looked for it at my local library and if it wasn’t there I would never have thought of it again. Jade had it in her car and when we were leaving she handed it over to me. I still had it with me when I went to pick up the kids from school that afternoon and as I was early I started to read it.
I’m freaking glad I did.
Disclaimer here: I didn’t read Big Magic in one go, eagerly devouring every word. No. I actually took my time reading it and letting it sink in. And there was one bit in particular that really hit a nerve, when she talks about perfectionism. I think she hit the nail on the head pretty much square on when she wrote “I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear.”
When I read that I actually stopped for a moment, found Gilbert on twitter and told her that my mind had been blown. Funny how a single sentence can do that.
I’m not a complete perfectionist, but I do sometimes dither until I think something is as good as I can get it. And a large part of that is because of the fear of what others will think of my work. Hence the reason why Gilbert’s words struck such a cord with me. I think it is time to trust in myself and my creative process a little bit more than I currently do. Why? Because being creative is a part of me and I’m freaking sick and tired of fighting with that part and trying to beat it into submission at times.
I love to create, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns but it is pretty fun when I don’t get stuck in my head with what I think society expects me to do with it. Think of the stereotypical tortured artist and you’re pretty close to what is in my head with that. And for me that’s the number one problem, what I think is expected is not necessarily what is expected or needed. Time to let it all go and write from the heart instead of the head, which is how I started but it got lost in the daily grind.
Do I think the work I churn out is stellar, number one selling stuff? No, but I do think it has potential and truthfully, writing makes me happy. I like to create different worlds and have characters do things I would never do. So that’s the ultimate goal, one I have lost sight of recently I think. Create for the sake of creating, write because it makes me happy. Just be. And hopefully be more at ease with my creativity because the tortured artist role is so not for me.