Saturday, January 2, 2016

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Subtitled Creative Living Beyond Fear

This was a good book to start 2016 off. 2015 was a year spent with deadlines and wondering where the hell my creativity went. Why couldn't I just find time to enjoy myself instead of feeling like I HAD to do all and be all?

I felt that as soon as I got a hobby and got somewhat good at it, everyone and their brother kept telling me what I needed to do now, how it should bring me money, make me that, make me this. Even before I got decent at a hobby, I heard the same thing. My creativity flat-lined.

I want to knit for myself. When the urge strikes, I want to make pretty or cool things for people as surprises. I don't want deadlines. I don't want it to make money. I want to spin for myself. To weave for myself and embroider for myself. And, quite literally, Gilbert gave me permission to do that in her book.

Gilbert speaks of creativity and creating as spiritual and she's right. When I'm creating and in that zone, it's awesome. When the fear of failure or pressure from the outside comes in, it's awful. As Gilbert points out, however, some fear is necessary... it never goes away so you need to make room for it, but don't ever, ever, ever, let it drive.

My favorite portion of the book was where she had interviewed Tom Waits. He is one of my favorite singer-songwriters-personality and even he was under pressure to produce edgy, impressive, IMPORTANT work. That kind of pressure leads to drinking, self-loathing and a dried up resource of the creative well. After watching his children play, and seeing their well was never empty and they never feared that it would be empty, he took to thinking the same way. In the end, he said his music is just jewelry for the brain. Just. Jewelry. Coming from a man who is prolific in everything he does.

I'm hoping to make 2016 about creativity. About self-care and about not letting the fear drive and making sure everyone else stays out of my head. It looks like other folks are taking the same route. One of the podcasts I frequently listen to, A Playful Day, launched The Maker's Year. The Maker's Year is a challenge to be more creative, to find the time to create and to share that with everyone else (through blogs, instagram, etc.).

I see colorful, wooly things in my future.

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