Elizabeth Gilbert is a controversial writer. Some people love her books, some hate them. Some people think she’s a great writer, others think she’s terrible. Eat, Pray, Love was an international mega-bestseller, one that I liked a lot. I never read her two following books, Committed or The Signature of All Things, but I heard similarly divisive things about them.
The wildly divergent opinions on her and response to her work is a big reason I enjoyed Big Magic, her book on “Creative Living Without Fear.” She discusses her work, the responses to it and her response to it so lightly, so un-offendedly, that it’s a pleasure to read. And that’s even before she talks about creative process, how ideas are living things that can thrive or live and die, or how writers shouldn’t quit their day jobs. It’s not even just about writing, either, but in general about living a creative life, and doing things that stretch your brain or body in ways that are joyful and celebratory.
When I talk about “creative living” here, please understand that I am not necessarily talking about pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts….I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear. (p. 9)
This is an excellent book to borrow from the library, and would be a delightful gift for the creative and curious people in your life. I’m afraid if I recommend it too highly than one of the many people who doesn’t like Liz Gilbert will say they can’t believe they paid $25 for it. But there’s a lot of smart stuff in here, alongside a lot of common sensical stuff that might be dismissed as obvious. But, especially for writers, there is a great anecdote about Gilbert and writer Ann Patchett that I liked so much I shared it aloud to my husband.
Others who have read it, what did you think?