Like most of you I'm an avid reader. I'm hoping to re-connect with old friends, make new friends, and of course spread the love of reading and writing around to everyone!
Big Magic is a self-supporting book regarding creativity, and is aimed at writers and artists, but it's also, for anyone who wants to inject some creative magic into their every day lives. The questions Gilbert proposes are simple ones: What are you curious about? And what would you keep doing, even if you knew you would fail?
Gilbert’s approach to creativity is sometimes a bit mystical, but it’s also deeply democratic, even tilting towards radical. In some parts I rolled my eyes, but then there were other parts that had me fist pumping in solidarity. I can imagine my Literary Criticism and Writing Professors turning absolutely green at some of Gilbert’s ideas. “Are you one of those people who believe that the arts are the most serious and important thing in the world?” she asks about 100 pages in. “If so, my friend, then you and I must part ways right here.” She thinks creativity can be meaningful, sure, but she wants you to get off your high horse about it, and not quit your day job.
More importantly, she rejects the idea of certain people being geniuses, instead she claims that everyone has a genius that comes and goes, and it's our job to work humbly, without ever expecting it to arrive, yet at the same time, to but be ready for when it does; as it's very often without pomp and circumstance.
So, for instance, you might be gardening and you'll get an idea about a flower, so you do some research on said flower, and then that research will lead you to another clue, and then another clue will follow that. Gilbert proposes that it's our job to follow that chain of intrigue to see where it will lead. Hint: It's often not where you'd expect, so just go with it.
“I cannot even be bothered to think about the difference between high art and low art. I will fall asleep with my face in the dinner plate if someone starts discoursing to me about the academic distinction between true mastery and mere craft,” she writes. “I don’t ever want to confidently announce that this person is destined to become a great artist while that person should give it up.” In other words, Gilbert believes every single person has innate creative ability; it’s our job to tap into it, if we so wish.
Furthermore, Gilbert suggests that we should stop searching for the idea no one else has had. Gilbert thinks people are way too obsessed with “original” ideas, and would do better to find more "authentic" ones, instead.
In conclusion, this book helped me to make peace with my own creativity on a lot of different levels, and for that I am grateful. Since reading this book, I have taken concrete steps to shift my own inner dialogue, and it has had a lot of positive changes in all aspects of my life.