Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

big-magic-coverI’ve been reading a book, shocking really. For some reason I really do not read that often, well these days, anyway. I’d rather be creative with my own imagination rather than someone else’s, it seems. Also, I usually only read Fiction, mostly magic, fantasy or sci-fi, this for want of a better word is a self help book.

I am not going to insult you by saying this is the greatest book ever written (although I thought it was quite well written), I also won’t insult you by saying it changed my life…….but it did transform some of my thinking – to a degree.It most definitely made me smile, laugh and feel good.

So how is it I ended up reading it? Well I have had a few crappy weeks lately, things not going my way artistically. No one particularly to blame, it was just my shit sandwich (seriously read the book) for the month. Karma crossed my path with some videos from Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love fame), you know when you are watching something on YouTube and it links to something else, so you watch that and then it takes you somewhere else again? I ended up watching a reading by Ms Gilbert for Big Magic. Sure I have heard of her before, heard some quotes thrown around before before Kim Klassen, Sebastian Michaels and other wondrous teachers, but had never read her books. (I saw the movie Eat, Pray, Love many years ago, and I honestly can’t remember much apart from Julia Roberts was in it). Elizabeth is brutal in her honesty, slap you across the face and accept that to live a truly artistic and creative life……..you have to put up with a lot of crap, mostly from yourself!

In saying that, you do not need to spend your life beating yourself up, turning in a coke snorting, alcoholic, manic depressive who thinks the world owes him/her a better deal. In short, to lead a creative and artistic life, you need to love what you do and enjoy it. Do it because you WANT and NEED to; not because it might make you rich and famous.

I knew all that…honestly I did, but sometimes you push it down thinking that a few small victories here and there should have you rich and famous by now. I didn’t start photography to become a famous photographer, I didn’t become a graphic artist to sell thousands of paintings, and I didn’t start this blog to have millions of followers. I started all of it, because I wanted to; it caught my soul on fire.

I have a passion for photography, I enjoy portraits and newborns, I enjoy landscapes and the travel, I really enjoy the zen like meditation from my Still Life and I adore my conceptual portraits……..do I care if no-one understands them? Not really, hey don’t get me wrong it’s great when other people enjoy them; but the earth does not fall off it’s axis, babies don’t die and I am still breathing if someone doesn’t ‘get it’. In the end I created it for me and my Muse. My digital art, I throw myself on the mercy of my Muse and let her take me wherever she wishes to go, sometimes I have to work without her, but that is OK too. But if I keep working, a little bit every day; my Muse will show up……..it’s when I ignore her she goes off to sulk.

My passion and dedication doesn’t mean my art is the worlds greatest, but I should not live in fear of showing my art (I was at the start, but not now), I learned these lessons all by myself, and if I could pass this onto someone else, then I have done a good, no…..a great deed. Don’t hide yourself and your art away, if you are passionate and work at it, with persistence,  it will show. It may not make you rich and famous, but be honest; that’s not why we do it…is it? It does not matter whether you are a painter, a sculpture, a writer, a poet, photographer, a gardener, a whittler, a potter, a silver or blacksmith……….we do it because we love it….and THAT my friend is what is important.Besides no one really cares what you do (harsh but true) they are too busy with their own lives, occasionally someone will sit up, take notice and say hey that’s great, or hey that’s complete crap and then guess what? They go back to their own life.

Reading this book made me feel good about myself and my art, I can be happy in knowing that I enjoy doing it. I may never be rich or famous, I have my day job, so it doesn’t really matter. My passion costs little (well apart from the travel, but that’s my call, not my passion), I have friends and models who are happy to work with me for free (that still blows my mind, when people ask to model for me and not charge me!).If I am a good person, and my art hurts no-one then what does it matter? Maybe I am the only one who likes it? That is OK, it doesn’t matter if no-one else likes it, so it doesn’t matter if I put it out there and nothing happens; I won’t drop dead. No-one gets out of this life alive……so enjoy your time here, for however long or short it is; life is ultimately too short to be boring and unhappy. Being miserable and suffering for your ‘art’ won’t necessarily make you a better artist, but being happy and content in your work may – think about that.

Seriously if you do anything creative, or have ever wanted to, but were too scared, self conscious, too – whatever; pick up a copy of this book and read it, it will make your heart lighter and put a smile on your face, of that I am sure.

~ Julz