I often discover new things about myself through my writing. It’s definitely an ‘AHA!’ moment when I realise what I thought I was writing about is just a cover or distraction for the real issue. In other words, the main character is not half as important or interesting as the supporting role of the ordinary girl.
Case (post) in point!
When I began this blog post it was about how after reading the book, Big Magic,’ by Elizabeth Gilbert (the writer best known for her international bestseller, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’) I saw similarities between creativity and love.
It somehow morphed into something completely different, so I ask that you just bear with me and keep reading and enjoy my ‘monkey’ mind jumping around. I’m not apologising, simply saying it how it is.
So, with that in mind, let me proceed!
‘Big Magic,’ is all about living a creative life for yourself, rather than for the exclusive happiness and approval of others. Although it’s focus is creativity, I was surprised to find myself thinking that the same principles that can be applied to creativity also apply to love. Hence, I needed to read this book, because I haven’t had a lot of faith in that whole ‘L’ word since last year.
Gilbert talks about being afraid of rejection or being criticised, misunderstood or ignored. Yep, it applies to how I feel about love right now.
She discusses the idea that there’s no point in pursuing it; yep.
She mentions the whole process as being thought of as a waste of time; yep, my friends tell me to stop pursuing something that isn’t worth it (according to them).
It goes on with possible reasons or excuses for not trying and yes, I am worried about what my family will think (my mum in particular), I am worried about what my friends, ex-colleagues and current ones will think about my state of mind, I am most definitely afraid of facing my own shit through a relationship, I’m afraid of making the same mistakes again and basically, I’m just…
Sometimes someone appears, just like Gilbert says ideas do, and you’re not expecting it. They’re nothing like you imagined and yet, you have a choice. You can say yes, or no.
Last year I was approached by love in the form of someone I would never date. Never.
But I said yes. I gave it a chance because someone on the other side of the world planted a seed of an idea in my mind that began to grow.
They said, “Give him a chance.”
So I did.
Now, this is where love and creativity meet and where I received my ‘AHA!’ moment.
Last year when I was in a relationship, I did some of the best writing I’ve done in years. Granted, some of that was actually before we started dating, but I felt as though it got even better and more emotional and real afterwards. I can’t be sure if that’s true because I don’t really have a way to measure it, but in mind it has been… until now.
After we broke up, I wrote and wrote and wrote and used all that sadness and anger to write some good, some bad and some plain-fucking-awful-kill-yourself-after-you’ve-read-this, stuff. A few weeks ago, I finally got sick of my own shit (Gilbert discusses this too) and thought, fuck, if my own depressive shit is pissing me off, imagine all those poor souls who have been reading it! It certainly was a wake-up call.
I’ve been moping around for months thinking that if we were still together everything would be rosy and yet, that was not the issue at all (and definitely not true if we were together either!). I’ve also been feeling a little stale with my writing and have been looking for a new project/projects. All this time, I thought that the issue was about love and it’s not at all. I’ve been pursuing love as a way of trying to rekindle the creativity I had last year.
And why would I do this?
Because my ex loved my writing. He approved. He told me how great and heartfelt it was. He told others how good my writing was.
So what? you say. Ah, but if you read Gilbert’s book you will understand all of this. Gilbert talks all about the ego and how it loves to be stroked. She talks about how being creative for the sole purpose of others leads to us stifling our creative flow.
I finished the book with the feeling that I thought I was reading it because of my interest in creativity, finding something about love and then drawing my own conclusions and truth about myself and my creativity. How’s that for full circle?
In the process of reading it and then letting the words marinate in my soul and mind for a few days I suddenly knew:
Yes, emotions and experiences are indeed powerful things for creativity and are definitely worth pursuing and using as inspiration. But, and there is a but, I have learned there are two things you need to keep in mind.
- Do not allow those emotions to dominate your creativity. You are not your emotions and your emotions do not need to colour everything you do. In other words, do you work but do not allow all your work to be about these feelings. That not only makes you a slave, but also makes you start to believe that without those emotions you will not produce good work and that is absolutely not true.
- The second and perhaps the most important thing is not to attach your self-respect, self-worth and worst of all, identity and creativity with the object of your affection. Believing that without their stamp of approval on your creativity that it isn’t worth your while is an extremely dangerous and negative thought pattern to be trapped in. It is one of those that will only result in a downward spiral.
I could keep going on and on here, but I’ve cemented what I needed to, not only in my mind so I can begin creating freely and happily again, but also in words for others to read and hopefully identity with.
Creativity is a strange process and we make all sorts of excuses for why we’re not doing it. I’ve been doing it, but half-heartedly and not with the right intent. My intent from now on is to write (and create) what’s right for me and no one else. If someone likes it, great, but it has nothing to do with me if they don’t.
Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, for writing something that can be applied to all facets of life, not just creativity, but something that can also help you to recognise why your creativity (and lack of), is the way it is and how you can change all that.
I’m off to create some Big Magic.