Yesterday was the last day of our online book club and I have a secret; I haven’t finished the book. Last night I had questions like;
How can I contribute if I haven’t finished the damn book?
Does this mean I failed book club?
So I decided to show up today and tell you my secret, knowing that there would be others who didn’t finish the book. In fact, I emailed the hotel where I stayed in Darwin today, realising I left it on the bedside table of my hotel room.
Not just a fail, but an epic one. Maybe that’s the best end to this journey for me, accepting my weird and in fact enjoying its potential.
“Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy.”
I have had some big questions that have been prodded along by this book, but one of my main reflections is this.
Creative doesn’t equal deep and dark.
Creative doesn’t demand intense long, overwhelming pauses.
Creative doesn’t define my identity.
But it brings colour, life and magic to all of these parts of me.
Being creative is a gift, a friend to my everyday. It is not a burden to carry, but a language to learn.
It is not a disease or a disposition, creativity can be light as well as responsible.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic has converted my already creatively obsessed heart. I am more in love with creativity than ever before, but in some ways, I am less defined by it.
Does that even make sense?
I am carrying my creative load a little lighter and don’t feel so defined by its genre and category. Maybe my thoughts will change as I finish its last few chapters, but I doubt it.
Maybe it has done its work anyway.
And for those who didn’t read along with us, let me leave you with what I believe is the best paragraph in the whole book;
“Let me list for you some of the many ways in which you might be afraid to live a more creative life: You’re afraid you have no talent. You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticised or ridiculed or misunderstood or—worst of all—ignored. You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it. You’re afraid somebody else already did it better. You’re afraid everybody else already did it better. You’re afraid somebody will steal your ideas, so it’s safer to keep them hidden forever in the dark. You’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously. You’re afraid your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life. You’re afraid your dreams are embarrassing. You’re afraid that someday you’ll look back on your creative endeavours as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of discipline. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of workspace, or financial freedom, or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of training or degree. You’re afraid you’re too fat. (I don’t know what this has to do with creativity, exactly, but experience has taught me that most of us are afraid we’re too fat, so let’s just put that on the anxiety list, for good measure.) You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist. You’re afraid of upsetting your family with what you may reveal. You’re afraid of what your peers and coworkers will say if you express your personal truth aloud. You’re afraid of unleashing your innermost demons, and you really don’t want to encounter your innermost demons. You’re afraid your best work is behind you. You’re afraid you never had any best work to begin with. You’re afraid you neglected your creativity for so long that now you can never get it back. You’re afraid you’re too old to start. You’re afraid you’re too young to start. You’re afraid because something went well in your life once, so obviously nothing can ever go well again. You’re afraid because nothing has ever gone well in your life, so why bother trying? You’re afraid of being a one-hit wonder. You’re afraid of being a no-hit wonder”
How about you?
“What have you learned from Big Magic?”
Elaine and Jodie, thanks for the journey.
Till we meet again in online book club land,