Big Magic – Two-Minute Book Review

Title: Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear


Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Other works: Eat, Pray, Love, The Signature of All Things, etc.

Recommended by: Glennon at Momastery (again). I’ll pretty much try anything she says. Also, I’d already read Eat, Pray, Love, and although it wasn’t dramatically life-changing for me, it was fascinating and memorable and contained a few moments that really moved me.

Genre: Self-Actualization/Art/Philosophy/Nonfiction/Psychology

Main Characters: Mostly you, the reader. And Liz. And a few other creative people with profound things to say.

Opinions: It was a pretty quick and relatively light read. It could incite soul-searching, but also it could just be read as a go-get-’em pick-me-up. I found it comforting on many levels, and funny too.

A quotation I liked: “Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything. So please calm down now and get back to work, okay? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”

What sticks with me: 1) All people possess creativity; 2) Ideas are active and animate and will go about knocking on people’s doors until they get someone to bring them to life; 3) The suffering artist thing does not have to be a thing – if it makes you suffer that much, it’s really not what you should be doing; 4) folks need to give themselves permission to feel entitled to the time it takes to make their art – yes, it is worth doing. (Even if you’re a blogger with a very small audience, or a composer who only composes something every 5 years. 😉 )

Recommended to: People who have ideas stewing but never feel validated enough to make them happen; people who think they’re not creative; people who know they ARE creative.

To sum up: I liked it a lot! And I’ve already lent it to someone, but you can borrow it if you want, when I get it back.



5 thoughts on “Big Magic – Two-Minute Book Review

  1. emily says:

    I liked it too. Enough to borrow it from my sister when I had to give back the library book that was two weeks overdue but had like 200 people waiting for it, cause I wanted to write about it too. Which I haven’t done. But yeah. It did have good stuff to say…and a lot of interesting anecdotes including some name-droppy ones, and also some stuff I disagreed with or found inadequate. I didn’t hate anything in it, but I didn’t find it addressed to my satisfaction the burning questions that I need someone to provide perfect answers to…mostly I guess it’s just really good FODDER.

    Gosh, I hope whoever has your copy will give it back to you soon!


    • dilovelyadmin says:

      LOL! I think there may have been bits I found a bit skimmy/superficial too, but I don’t remember them. I’d like to re-read it.

      I’m curious about your burning questions!…

  2. emily says:

    (This is a reply to your reply, Di, though I don’t think it’ll show up that way.)

    I guess they’re not so much burning questions as conundrums…like the one about how we can justify spending time on futzing about with art and play and creativity when there’s so much work to be done, injustice to fight, etc. A big topic that doesn’t really have good answers but you can look for them anyway. This includes the idea of how to be an artist if you’re in a dire situation, financially/societally oppressed, etc. As I recall, she basically said “well, I guess there are some people who have it rough, but chances are you’re not one of them, so don’t sweat it!”

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Well… Lots of people use their art TO fight injustice! But yeah – art is one of the things that drops away when one is fighting for survival or personhood. And I think she’s also making the point that when we have the “luxury” of being able to create art, in a way, it’s our duty to do so.

  3. emerge says:

    Yeah, she might have said that too. I have to look up my notes for more detail! I know there are good (or productive) responses to this conundrum. I was just sad that her response seemed to be “you probably don’t have this problem” because she basically shut out anyone for whom that’s not the case. But maybe she knows her audience doesn’t include any such people…

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