I’m not sure why Amazon won’t publish this review of Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic. It’s a marvelous book, one that will sell you on the dual elements of hard labor and fairy dust in bringing one’s work into being. Undeterred, I decided to post the review here in the hope that you’ll be motivated to buy the book and follow its suggestions.
A big Elizabeth Gilbert fan, there was no way I was going to pass on this book. Although I knew it would probably be filled with some of the same old/same old “you can do it” verbiage, I also knew that no one could say it in quite the way creative, fun, quirky, motivational way. I was right.
Throughout the book, the reader increasingly senses that something unseen and unknown can actually be working with people courageous and disciplined enough to say yes to an idea and then get to work. Gilbert mentions British physicist Sir Arthur Eddington’s explanation of how the universe works: “Something unknown is doing we don’t know what.” And then she adds, “But the best part is I don’t need to know that.”
Gilbert writes about several mentors who have assisted her along the magic path, including her parents. Like other writers and artists, at times she has been tempted to put something aside without completing it, and then she recalls the words of her mother who always said, “Done is better than good.” Gilbert concurs and says that a “good enough novel violently written now is better than a perfect one meticulously written never.”
To further encourage people to find the “big magic,” Gilbert adds that the essential ingredients for torpor and misery are laziness and perfectionism. She goes on to quote writer Rebecca Solnit and states, “The perfect is not only the enemy of the good; it’s also the enemy of the realistic, the possible, and the fun.”
For those who are still a bit timid about stepping out of their comfort zones for fear of what others might say, Gilbert offers all sorts of advice. My favorite is that of W.C. Fields: “It ain’t what they call you; it’s what you answer to.” She reminds the reader that people will have their own opinions of your work. So what? Let them.
If you have an idea to share, one that just won’t leave you alone, then say yes. It’s showtime.