Big Magic

by Julie Claire on October 13, 2015

big magic cover copy

I admit rarely do I read nonfiction. I am an avid fantasy and young reader junkie. But I do like to stay in tune with current writers on the creative process and books with a transformational perspective.

Two years ago  I had the pleasure of hearing Elizabeth Gilbert speak some of the stories she shares in Big Magic at a conference I was attending in celebration of my fiftieth birthday called Emerging Women Live.

at emerging women, smaller copy 2

Her contagious enthusiasm for the creative process made a big impression on me. So I bought her book.


Loving it. If you’re interested in reading about one awfully-good-storytelling author’s experience with the muse, inspiration in general, creative dedication, the meaning and meaninglessness of making art, buy the book….immediately…it won’t let you down.

It’s already a best seller; It’s not a secret. But it is such a rare read that I can’t help but talk about it here. I can open it up to almost any page and feel the relevance to my life as an art maker. Okay, here goes…opening the book…. Page 78:

“..this is how I want to spend my life—collaborating to the best of my ability with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand”.

Yep, I resonate….

While so many people are trying to legitimize what we know through brain studies/ brain research, I find myself starving to let that all go and talk directly about the Mystery of inspiration, creative process, the unknowable– without any proving going on.

I feel she has hit on some of the primary topics that we all deal with when we venture into making art and I am excited by her uniquely personal narrative on how inspiration works.

“I told the Universe (and anyone who would listen) that I was committed to living a creative life not in order to save the world, not as an act of protest, not to become famous, not to gain entrance to the canon, not to challenge the system, not to show the bastards, not to prove to my family that I was worthy, not as a form of deep therapeutic emotional catharsis….but simply because I liked it.”

If it was my book, I would perhaps include a chapter on the emotional catharsis of painting; I might talk a little bit more about how creativity tenderly works with our darker, deeper dimensions; I might have my own slightly different perspective on what brings me to the blank page…but overall her writing strikes true and essential for me .

I feel like any conversation you and I might have that is sparked by reading this book would be an engaging one. So, let me know what you think of the book. And perhaps what chapter speaks to you most. Or how your experience is similar or different than hers.

These are the conversations I long for.

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