I’m not sure how I stumbled upon Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic late last year, but her words were divinely timed. As if the good Lord plopped it in this lap and grinned, All truth is My truth. Enjoy.
I’d just signed a book contract, was feeling all the feelings about birthing a baby in the form of pages and a binding. So much excitement. Even more nerves.
And then I read something in Big Magic that was quite life-changing. Often, when authors write a book they refer to it as as “birthing a child,” or “it’s like I had a baby.” I get that. I do. That was my book proposal experience – years of working and re-working and re-titling and then sending it off only to hurry up and wait. Is it a boy? A girl? What do you think?
Liz talks about how writing a book is altogether different than having a baby. (In my version, let’s say bringing a child in for all my friends who create their fam’s through foster care or adoption) but you get the idea. In an interview here she literally throws Big Magic on the ground and talks about how you can’t do that to a baby. It’s a book, not a child, she shares. In her fabulously unique voice, she talks about when we refer to our creativity as our “baby,” we won’t let anyone be mean to it, or cut it down in size. “You might not be able to release your own work or share it at all- because how will that poor defenseless baby survive without you hovering over it and tending to it?” Ha! Oh Liz, I heart you.
She goes on to expand on the beauty that once a book is written it’s independent of the writer. “Your creative work is not your baby; if anything you are its baby.” She continues, “Every project has matured me in a different way. I am who I am precisely because of what I have made and what it has made me into.”
People can like a book, hate it, be moved by it, or throw it in the trash. It doesn’t matter because once it’s completed and out there, it doesn’t depend on the writer to keep going. The book is independent. Something about watching her interview, about reading her words about fear and creativity, about not being a victim to the creative process, but owning and welcoming it, opened my perspective one week before I started writing chapter one. Coincidence? Nah.
I wrote myself a letter and maybe one day I’ll share it, but basically I told myself to unzip my soul and give Choosing Real everything I have. To hold nothing back. To enjoy this job, this one I choose daily, this creative path where I feel most alive, and on the days I want to bang my head against the desk, to go for a walk, or re-design our living room, or take the boys to the beach, or pull weeds out front. To come back with renewed eyes and a rested spirit. And when the book is edited and bound and out there in the world, it is no longer my project. It will be independent of me, and no matter how it’s responded to, I am whole. I will know I gave it my everything and that, my friends, is the best an imperfect human can offer.
May I encourage you with the same focus? Whatever “baby” is in your pile, your lap, on your agenda, or in your head today – rock it. Give it your best. Pour your passion and heart and senses into it. And when today is over, release it. It’s independent of you. Let’s agree to not hover-parent our creativity, but come alongside it and embrace the journey of experience.
And if there’s a book, blog, podcast, piece of art, or a song that’s offered another side of a coin and freed you in a specific way, share the magic, friends. The Big Magic.