Hanging Out with Elizabeth Gilbert

Okay, it’s not like we were hanging out at her house or anything. But, even though I was sitting in a group of hundreds of women (and more men than I anticipated), it felt like we were just hanging out. Elizabeth Gilbert was in town as part of the DMA’s Arts and Letters Live series and I was lucky enough to get to go. I say lucky because a friend had purchased the tickets months ago and then had a conflict, so I was able to purchase her tickets from her.

Like so many people, I really liked Eat, Pray, Love, the book for which Gilbert is most widely known. And I bought (but haven’t read yet) Big Magic months ago when I was waiting in line to meet Jenny Lawson at her book reading. But, I hadn’t heard her speak and didn’t know much about her new book (I thought about using BM as the shorthand for Big Magic, but thought better of it for the parents out there who might wonder why I’m writing about bowel movements.) Anyway.

Let me first say, Liz (can I call her Liz?) was wearing a gorgeous dress. It was a brocade-looking material, a chartreuse color with embroidered pink flowers and gold accents. That doesn’t sound gorgeous, but it was gorgeous. Since I followed the rules and didn’t take any pictures during her talk, you’ll have to trust me.

Her talk was about creativity and embracing it rather than pushing it away or hiding from it. I mean, it’s more than that, but I just condensed it for you. There were many points during her talk that I jotted down notes, so I thought I’d share them with you and talk about what they meant to me when I heard them.

“Creativity and Fear are conjoined twins. One leads you do do something and the other stops you from doing it.” There is almost never a time when I do (or more often want to do) something creative that I am not afraid. More often than not, I let the fear stop me. I fear I won’t be good at it. I fear nobody else will like it. My biggest and oldest fear? I don’t write, because what if I don’t have any stories?

“The important thing isn’t what you create, the important thing is what the creating will turn *you* into.” I really believe that doing something is worth it, even if you never show anyone else. However, I haven’t used this in my creative life very often, it’s been with other things like making donations or helping a family in need. Doing for the sake of doing, not for the “credit” you might get.

“You need to consistently make decisions out of curiosity and not fear.” I think life would be so full of adventure and shenanigans if we did this.

“My life will start when __________” This thought process used to hinder me a lot more than it does now. I do still stop myself from doing things I want to do until I’ve done just one more of the things on my have-to-do list. It’s an easy trap for me to fall in to, doing my chores and then letting myself do something fun. Self care? Who has time for that when there are so many things I *have* to do to run our family efficiently! I’m working on it, y’all.

“You never know what it’s ‘for'” What will I do with the things I create? What is it for? I don’t think it dawned on me that I stop myself doing a lot of creative things unless I have a place for it to live after I’m done. I’m definitely not subscribing to the notion of seeing what the process turns me into.

“What are you most excited about right now?” This is the question that Liz asked to everyone during her Big Magic book tour. It’s a thought-provoking question and one that I will use with new people I meet (and the kids, for sure). Also? It’s a hard question for me to answer, so I’ll be thinking about it a lot.

My friend, Katy, and I had a lot of fun listening to Liz. She is funny and a good speaker. Like I said, it felt like we were just hanging out with her. Now to read Big Magic!

Have you read Big Magic? What did you think? I’ll report back when I’m done…because I know you’re on the edges of your seats!

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