I have a huge crush on Liz Gilbert. If you don’t know who Liz is then you are living under a rock. She wrote Eat Pray Love, Committed, The Signature of All things and now Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear. I was counting down the weeks until Big Magic came out, ready to soak in all of her wisdom. Liz is one of my inspirations, not only because of her books. But because of her attitude to living an authentic life.
So. Here’s the main point of Big Magic, and after I tell you this, it is still worth a read. Liz argues that creativity is something we can all have. It is not some hidden chalice that only a few can drink from. It is available to anyone. Anytime. This is the essence of what Big Magic is. It is that feeling that time can go by for hours, you lose yourself in something. You forget all those things on the to do list. You will get up early to do it. You will stay up late to do it. That ‘thing’ is the thing that you should nurture. Say yes. You don’t have to be scared of it. And you don’t have to make a living from it. Phew.
“Write that novel. Yes….I hope with all my heart that good fortune finds you and showers you with abundance… but don’t count on the payoff, I beg of you, because such payoffs are exceedingly rare – and you might kill off your creativity by holding it to such a harsh ultimatum.” Big Magic, Page 155
I love this quote. I made a decision a while back that I do not want to quit my day job. I like writing. Yes. I am getting paid writing gigs. Yes. But more than anything I like the freedom of writing what I like. At the moment my tactic to pitch stories is probably not the best, nor what they teach you in the course.
But anyway, here it is.
I pick a story I want to write. I pick one that I am passionate about. I pitch it to editors, maybe to around five or six. If it does not sell. I write it anyway, if I really want to write it, then I move onto the next idea. Really, I don’t have time to plug ideas for too long. Because there are more ideas of mine waiting to be born. So if it is something I really want to write I post it here on my blog or submit it to a free magazine. I pitch a few times a month, write a few blog posts a week and end up writing about two articles a month. And I have my day job, (which is also writing, by the way, in the public health sphere).
But for now, I love creative writing, so I continue to do it. I get lost in it. And this writing what I know and love is kind of working out for me. I am going to have another 10 pieces out in the next three months. Sounds like success? Yes. I could quit my job, to pursue a creative life. Pitch 100 more ideas to magazines. Get rejected, get some commissions. Make an income out of it, and be writing about everything from gadgets to gardening.
Do I want to do that? No. I want to write the stories I want to write because I want to. Because I enjoy it.
Now for a confession. I’ve been sitting on a brilliant idea for a picture book for over 12 months – Sashi cat and the fish truck. A fabulous tale about diversity and acceptance, through the eyes of a cat. I have done nothing about it. It is a wonderful idea that literally came to me in a flash that I have chosen to ignore.
Because of all the fear.
I’m not good enough. I know nothing about writing for kids. It is going to fail. I don’t have an illustrator. It is going to suck. Self publishing is too hard.
Since reading Big Magic, I have scrawled a rough draft into my notebook, made contact with an illustrator, and booked into a course on writing picture books.
And you know what?
I am going to write Sashi cat and the fish truck.
Just for me. Just because.