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Gilbert Tackles The 'Big Magic' Of Creativity

I have been a sucker for the beguiling voice of Elizabeth Gilbert ever since I read her profile of Hank Williams III in the December 2000 issue of GQ.

I sought out the books she’d published before that article and have read everything since. She had a freak success with her love-it-or deal-with-it memoir Eat Pray Love.

But success is fickle, and Gilbert knew the odds were stacked against her by those who perversely challenged her to top herself. Since Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert wrote a book about her marriage and a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed, even as my book club took a few jabs at.

Enter her new book, Big Magic: Creative Living beyond Fear. It is a panacea for artists with a modicum of happiness whose critical voice stilts productivity. It will be anathema for any artist who thinks misery, depression and alcohol are prerequisites for making art with a capital “A.”

In her signature conversational style, both sassy and serious, Gilbert invokes high- and low-brow cultural references and recommends we channel our inner trickster-- better to be a Bugs Bunny than a martyr, like Sir Thomas More.

Gilbert generously leads us through her definition of “big magic.” It is that spark of inspiration that shows up during the creative process. It won’t come when called, or appear on a deadline, or be pulled out of a hat. Rather, it rises up during the work and thought and research and discipline that is required to live and support one’s self in a life of making things.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s manifesto is a book to read through quickly, and then start again to discover any big magic you may have missed.