When I think about the phenomenon that was the book Eat Pray Love, I think about the pizza paragraph. It was the most vivid imagery I’d ever read.
“The dough it takes me half my meal to figure out, tastes more like Indian nan than like any pizza dough I ever tried. It’s soft and chewy and yielding, but incredibly thin. I always thought we had two choices in our lives when it came to pizza crust—thin and crispy, or thick and doughty. How was I to have known there could be a crust in this world that was thin and doughy? Holy of holies! Thin, doughy, strong, gummy, yummy, chewy, salty pizza paradise. On top, there is a sweet tomato sauce that foams up all bubbly and creamy when it melts the fresh buffalo mozzarella, and the one sprig of basil in the middle of the whole deal somehow infuses the entire pizza with herbal radiance, much the same one shimmering movie star in the middle of a party brings contact high of glamour to everyone around her. It’s technically impossible to eat this thing of course. You try to take a bit off your slice and the gummy crust folds, and the hot cheese runs away like topsoil in a landslides, makes a mess of you and your surroundings, but just deal with it.” – Liz Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
And while we can all agree pizza is awesome, I think we can also agree that this really wasn’t Liz Gilbert’s desired takeaway for her readers…or maybe it was? In which case, success, Liz. Pizza has never been the same.
When she released Big Magic last year, I didn’t pay too much attention. Then a friend texted me a photo of it, asking if I had read it and that if I hadn’t, I needed to. I looked it up, saw it was by the same author as Eat Pray Love. I remembered the pizza scene, smiled, then moved on.
Then a few more people told me to read it. A co-worker, another friend, another co-worker. It came up over and over again.
I can take a hint. Especially when there are flashing arrows pointing to it.
This summer, I took two blissful weeks of vacation with no big plans. The perfect time to read this book.
But I didn’t read it. I devoured it. In fact, I finished it and closed the back cover, turned it over and started again. But with a pen and a notebook.
I so desperately wanted to impress a book into my heart and into my soul.
This book is a game changer for me. It’s finally allowing me to admit I’m creative. I am. Because creativity doesn’t mean “good at art”. In fact, “creativity” doesn’t have any qualitative aspect – creativity can’t be good or bad. It is just the act of making. Of creating.
I love creating. I love thinking and imagining and visioning. I love making and experimenting and appreciating creativity.
I am creative. I want to be creative.
My favourite form to express creativity is through words. It’s also how I process. And when I wondered how the heck I would process this book, it felt overwhelming and too big. I got crazy butterflies.
And I try to always choose butterflies.
And I also break overwhelming things into parts. Thankfully, Liz did that in this book with those essential ingredients. And so, I took it one ingredient at a time.
I made a commitment. I would start a new workday routine. I’d wake up 45 minutes before I needed to and I’d write. I’d write about these ingredients, one at a time. I’d use Liz’s beautiful concepts and words as a launch pad, and write what stirred in me.
I’d write without pressure. Maybe I’d post it, maybe I wouldn’t. But I knew the best way for me to imprint this beautiful collection of words into my heart and soul was to use it as the foundation for my own creativity.
I’ve learned a lot through this. For example, creativity is meant to be shared. Not for the sake of helping others, but for the simple sake of sharing.
So I’ll share what Liz stirred in me, one ingredient at a time. These aren’t summaries of her words. Not at all. In fact, they often drift away from what she intended. And if you’ve read Big Magic, you know she’s okay with this. Because she’s okay with anything that stirs creativity.
Here’s a summary of what I’ve taken away from each ingredient. I’ll expand on each one over the coming weeks.
Courage: Refuse to make decisions based on fear.
Enchantment: Ideas and inspiration are bigger concepts than we can wrap our heads around. And that’s wonderful.
Permission: You don’t need permission to create. Simply by existing, by being a human with a voice, you are entitled to create.
Persistence: Create without the goal of perfection. Perfection creates pressure that stifles creativity.
Trust: Creating is about the process, not the end project. You need to create, even when the outcome isn’t guaranteed. Because the outcome is never guaranteed.
And so I share this. But for me. And if it happens to resonate with you? Then that’s a beautiful side effect.
And I need to say, thank you Liz Gilbert. Thank you for taking my view of creativity and flipping it inside out. Thank you for the words that keep me wanting to create.