Do you ever pick up a book, excited to read it and it ends up being nothing like you thought it was going to be? Because that was my experience with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. It wasn’t the concept itself that was confusing however, it was how she chose to describe and elaborate upon her ideas.
Summary: “Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. ” -Goodreads
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Why?: It sounds promising, right? Learning how to overcome the fear of rejection and stress in order to just live a plain and simple creative life? The only flaw is that the “how-to” factor isn’t explained, just enforced. She seems to be a very optimistic writer and woman, which isn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t something I find realistic enough to learn from or enjoy. I like to think of myself as a realist, and a realist tends to not think on a whim. We tend to look for steps or rules to how to achieve an outcome. Not that we aren’t hoping the outcome will be good, but we want a designated way to get there. The way she writes makes it seem that if you hope and pray enough you will achieve great things, but unfortunately that’s not how it works. It takes discipline, sweat and tears to accomplish things like writing a book, and if it doesn’t then you are a rare percentage of people. It may just be me but it makes it harder to enjoy a nonfiction book if you don’t believe in the fundamental belief of the author.
Secondly, one of the other major things I disliked had to do with her glazing over of hardships as an artist. There was a whole section about the idea of the “tormented artist”and how she believed that most people did it only to fit the image, and how it is completely possible to create all the same things out of the inspiration of happiness that can be created out the inspiration of life tragedies, mental illnesses etc. And unfortunately, that just isn’t true. Plenty of incredible things have come out of people riddled with torment, and it isn’t fair to make it seem like their suffering was for nothing, and that they could’ve simply fixed their lives by “getting along” with their fear and having a more positive outlook on life. That doesn’t have anything to do with it. Her blind optimism made the book hard to enjoy or take seriously for that matter, and for that reason I disliked it more than I thought I would.
It’s been a while since I’ve written a bad(ish) book review and while I feel partially like I’m just complaining a lot, it feels good to get off my chest after reading this book. Have any of you read Big Magic? Or have you read a book that made you feel the same way? Let me know down below!