Did some reading this weekend and managed to finish two books – Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriott. Also worked on my TBR list, my November reads list and will be recording a video for Youtube in the next few days of what books I read in October.
Below is a book review for Big Magic:
Big Magic is Elizabeth Gilbert’s new nonfiction release regarding creativity. I had always viewed creativity as something that artists had — that you had to be a writer, painter or an idea person (Mad Men)to be considered creative. Halfway through this book I realized that I should look at the word creativity a little bit more closely. Creativity – to create — I was then able to realize that we all have some sort of creativity inside of us. There’s always something that we are creating that wasn’t there before. It could be as simple as coloring a picture in an adult coloring book. You may not hang it on the wall or try to sell it at an art show but it now exists where as it didn’t before. By looking at creativity in a different way it allowed me to see that I am and can be creative.
There was one concept in the book I didn’t really agree with and that is how she believes ideas work. Her school of thought is that an idea comes to a person and if that person doesn’t use the idea or ignores it, that an idea is like a physical thing and it will move on to another person to see if they will use it.
A concept that I do agree with on the surface is her statement that the arts are not as serious or important as we make them out to be. She states that we would be hard-pressed to identify a job that was less important than art (i.e. a doctor, lawyer, fireman, school teacher) and that these professions are infinitely more central to the smooth maintenance of the human community that any piece of art ever was or ever will be. On the whole I agree with that idea however I feel that if we don’t have art or a passion for creativity in our lives then those jobs that are so important such as policing, teaching, etc. are not done as well. We need to have both in our lives – a profession or job that makes us feel that we are contributing to society but creativity and art to give us that spark and curiosity that makes us feel that even after a bad day, life is worth living.
Elizabeth also talked about getting her first story published and how it almost didn’t happen. She had written a short story called Pilgrims and Esquire magazine had agreed to pick it up for their November issue. It turned out that the magazine lost a major sponsor shortly after they had agreed to publish her story and they advised her that the page count for that issue had to be greatly reduced. Therefore, they asked her to either reduce her short story by 30% or wait and see if it could be published in its entirety in a later edition. There was a risk in waiting because there was always a chance that it would never happen so she struggled with whether she should cut down the story that she thought had been polished as close to perfection as she could get it or just wait to see if it would get published at a later date in its entirety. She ended up reducing the story by 30% and it turned out to be the right thing to do as shortly afterwards the junior editor that was her champion to get it published left Esquire and she knew that it never would have been published if she hadn’t gone ahead and reduced it. Her “moral” of this story is in her words “being careful about your dignity”. Personally, I don’t think it’s dignity that you have to be careful about in a situation such as this but “pride”. In this case, she didn’t let her pride get in the way and was able to look at the situation objectively and do the right thing.
I ended up having a lot more to say about this book than I thought I would going into it. I picked up this book simply because of how much I had enjoyed Eat Pray Love but I ended up really enjoying it and learning something about myself also.