I know I'm way late to the game. Like, so late that the team has already packed up and is celebrating their victory with pizza at the nearby local joint. But, I have to admit, this Big Magic stuff is pretty good. Elizabeth Gilbert is no slouch, and her words, though sometimes slightly colored by beliefs I can't altogether buy into, contain many seeds of truth.
C.S. Lewis says that friendship is born at the moment that one man says to another, "What? You too! I thought that no one but myself..." I had several of those moments reading this memoir about creativity, the process of creation, and the lies artists allow to creep in and mar their work.
It was so refreshing for me to hear the honest confessions of a "success story." Making things is hard. Making things for a living is harder. Relying on your art or craft for a living is sometimes too much pressure for it to handle. But, if we are creative beings (and I believe as made-in-God's-image, we are) then we have to keep on making. No matter the outcome, no matter the profit margin.
I experienced so many "Yes! Me too!" moments throughout these pages. One particularly profound realization appears on page 154. It reads:
... It may be the case that there are seasons when you can live off your art and seasons when you cannot. This need not be a crisis; it's only the flux and uncertainty of a creative life. Or maybe you took a big risk in order to follow some creative dream and it didn't quite pay off, so you now you have to work for the man for a while to save up money until it's time to go chase your next dream—that's fine, too. Just do it. But to yell at your creativity, saying, "You must earn money for me!" is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you're talking about, and all you're doing is scaring it away, because your'e making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.
You know what artists? That sets us free to create without expectation. That means that even though, last year, I had to get a job at a cafe and work sun-up to sun-down making sandwiches and ladling soup, I am not limited by my resume. It also means that even though I'm now in a season that may or may not demand a big-girl job for the health of my family, I am not destined to fail in my creative endeavors.
Co-existing with my bohemian blue collar self is what work is all about for me. I'm not the sum of my work experience. I'm doing what I need to do to earn a living, be responsible, and live a God-honoring life.
For me, that means being set free to bring forth beauty in whatever capacity I can. A warm home-cooked meal, a hand-lettered Valentine's card, a well-designed gallery wall of memories. This is what I have. And in times where my art can't bring dinner to the table, this is enough.