Tuesday, 17 November 2015

On Big Magic

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert was on my October Reading List and I would encourage everyone to read it.

I try and keep my monthly reading posts short and snappy, but Big Magic made quite an impression on me and I kept coming back to it so it seemed worth writing a longer post on.

I won't go too much into what Big Magic is about, as it's wonderful and you should discover it for yourself. However, the one thing that I've found myself dwelling on is Gilbert's assertion that what you love does not have to pay the rent.

The internet has made working for yourself so much more accessible and the web is chock full of 'Do What You Love, Love What You Do' mantras, all in trendily beautiful (but, often barely legible) script. But Gilbert questions that - why should our creativity feed us and put a roof over our head? Aren't we lucky that it visited us at all? Shouldn't we simply dance with it instead of trying to pin it down in pounds, shillings and pence?

This idea really hurt me when I first read it. Because if I don't use my creativity to make my living - aren't I simply condemning myself to a lifetime of boring jobs that pay the bills, simply so I can write by nightlight and wake up with bags under my eyes?

Ahem. Yes, I definitely kicked against the idea of giving up 'doing what I love' for a living. But the more it's sat with me, the more I think I agree with her. Imagine your fragile creativity buckling under the weight of a mortgage - is that really what you want?

Perhaps we need to let go of this idea that a life can look like it does on social media - no stains or spills, no unpleasant smells. Just doing what you love, without any pressure, all while beautifully lit and styled.


Real life includes massive cock-ups, dragging yourself through your tax return, trying to re-coup your losses when something bombs horribly. Real life is not perfect - perhaps we need to remind ourselves of that instead of refreshing the page.

Treasure your creative moments. Cherish the moments that are magazine perfect. But get comfortable with the hard grind, the failures, the fact that maybe you need to make rent elsewhere so that you can keep those creative moments as moments of sanctuary. Maybe that is what is most important and will help you most.

It's definitely something to think about right? So, if you haven't read it yet, do read Big Magic. It certainly makes you think!

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