The Artist’s Way Part 2:
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
As I’m sure you could guess, I left Pixar to become who I am still becoming now: an artist who is humble enough to realize that I am a forever student on this trip called life. Hence, why Big Magic; Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert is my oblig next book.
“If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And, what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitro, insult your intelligence, misalign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile and sweetly suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then, stubbornly continue making yours.”
I cannot emphasize enough how laden this book is with both pragmatic and inspirational information. But, my biggest take away is the theme that guides her cornucopia of insight: there isn’t any concrete reason why artists create.
Her explanation is so meta that it’s hard for me to fully capture how deeply it affected me beyond the fact that this book was able to identify the problem that plagued me throughout almost my entire 20s.
I would always find myself feeling like everything I did creatively needed to be seen as a methodical step within a big-picture contraption that was scaffolding my career towards something shiny, yet slightly out of reach (hence, Pixar). Leading me to question myself, my art, and what how I am supposed to be feeling about all this versus how I actually am feeling.
What is my narrative in this world?
What am I trying to say?
Who is already saying that, and how can I say it differently?
I love heavy documentary-style photography… so, what am I contributing to this world by merely taking happy portraits of people on their wedding days?
Does my work really matter???
Once I would get going, I would spin out of control, blinding myself from any solid conclusion, subsequently removing myself from the creative flow.
Every artist knows the cycle.
But, what we artists lacked—until now—is the permission to put an end to indulging in the tragedy that is the artist’s way because all it does is stifle the very juice we need to keep the artist’s way alive and free flowing.
Gilbert prescribes the antidote through the grace of simplicity: to view our inclination to create as a gift.
Art is not a mechanism within our control nor a mechanism through which we manipulate success. Thus, binding our creative efforts to any motive beyond the impulse to simply “do” stifles the very creativity necessary for the magic of art to happen.
Ultimately, this book reads with the intolerant wisdom of your older sister snapping at you to cut the shit, stop groveling, and just do it because you want to, not because the world is telling you to or otherwise. Whenever I need a quick reminder on how to update my love/hate relationship with my creativity, this is the book I turn to.