If you’ve managed to avoid, or have not yet reached the senior moments in life, you may recall how I was kidnapped by Chuck Palahniuk. His memoir, Consider This, is a must read for any writer with a desire to extract the cement from their writing.
One of my goals for 2020 was to read all of Palahniuk’s books, as well as all the books he recommends in the memoir. My commitment held strong until I read Choke. I finished it, but the story was rather—unpalatable for me— no other way to say it. And so, I decided to take a break from Chuck and his recommendations. This break turned out to be much longer than I anticipated. November is only a hop, skip and Halloween away, so too, is the end of 2020— feel free to do whatever happy dance you wish over that much anticipated reality. My desire to return to Palahniuk’s literary world still beckons, but a stronger force is leading me elsewhere. This force is the reason I veered away from my kidnapped hysteria in the first place.
The Force— BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I postponed reading this book because I’ve been living a creative life in some form or another for decades, so much so, several friends told me, “You don’t need it. You’re doing it.” But one of my writing pals told me I’d love it, and so once I wrapped up my audio read of Stephen King’s On Writing Elizabeth Gilbert became my breakfast buddy.
Who needs to read this book?
Every human needs to read this book.
This book will bring magic into your life. I don’t exactly know how. I’m not clairvoyant, nor do I want to be. I like knowing certain whys and wherefores in my life will always be a mystery. The element of mystery is part of the BIG MAGIC too, which is another reason why I love this book. And even though I’m not clairvoyant, my guess is right about now you’re thinking, “Good Grief, Elizabeth Gilbert has kidnapped Jocosa from Chuck Palahniuk.”
My BIG MAGIC experience begins with a recap because you need to see the connective power of this force.
Gilbert’s memoir trickled into my life. First, all my friends said don’t bother reading it. Then one said I’d love it, which was shortly after my pal, Keith— who also went nuts for Palahniuk’s memoir— got me hooked on audio books. I didn’t dive right in because I was busy finishing up Consider This and wanted to revisit On Writing. By the end of King’s memoir, I was in the groove of breakfast audio reading, so of course my next thought was, “This is the perfect way to read BIG MAGIC.”
My listening coincided with the return of feedback on my first round of revisions. The feedback was, for the most part, encouraging. But the middle of the story— Yay! I finally have one— was filled with problems areas that appeared as unapproachable as Mount Everest during an avalanche. I let the notes marinate inside me for a few days, then opened a new document for round 2, as well as the document with the embedded notes from my editor and did a complete read through of the story, while transferring the embedded notes into the new manuscript.
And that my dear friends, readers and voyeurs was when the BIG MAGIC flowed through me. Throughout the two-week document prep, moments of lightness seized me. Each moment cracked open my heart and the light within merged with the light coming from some other realm, so whenever a plot-point-problem crossed my path it dissolved into a solution— one I’d never imagined before— and I wrote as quickly as possible to capture not only the solution, but also all the ways this solution would impact the story. Inspiration on steroids. Then I’d thank the Magic and move on. It was the most invigorating two weeks of my life, to date— I must add to date because I know for certain more are on the way because they haven’t stopped.
All those moments of inspiration led me to journaling about my protagonist’s past. I spent another two weeks fleshing out events in Kaitlyn’s life I never touched before because the story I’m writing now is much different than the one I began in 2002. More heart opening inspirations infused my journaling. And they’re all impacting the story now that I’m inside the document because now the events Kaitlyn refers to feel as if they happened in real life. Bigtime BIG MAGIC.
If that doesn’t convince you wait until you hear this…
One of my other stories that’s been waiting in the wings is about a boy named Leon. I love Leon and especially fond of his origin story. My intention was to finish Kait off, wrap up the memoir and then give full attention to Leon because all the scenes to his backstory have been written. But last week I realized there is no need because all the issues within Leon’s internal arc have been absorbed into Kaitlyn’s. I could be sad, or feel as if that year of prep work was a waste of time. But it wasn’t. Leon arrived in my life because I wasn’t emotionally ready to deal with certain issues in Kait’s story because Kait’s journey is too close to mine. But the Universe knew it needed to happen. And so, it sent Leon to pave the way. All good. All useful. All part of BIG MAGIC.
The other reason I’m absolutely sure about letting go of Leon is because a new idea has come to me.
You’ll start to notice all kinds of signs pointing you to the idea. Everything you see and touch and do will remind you of the idea. The idea will wake you up at night and distract you from your everyday routine. The idea will not leave you alone until it has your fullest attention.
It’s nattering at me so much, I almost want to put everything else on pause. But I can’t because I’m in the flow. And so, I’ll finish Kait’s journey and do the prep work on the new piece and along the way offer gratitude the size of the Mighty Mississippi to the BIG MAGIC that was generous enough to check in on me— the writer who keeps showing up even without a book deal in sight.
Where Do You Fit In?
I honestly don’t know. But when my hubby teaches Theatre History, he underscores the Ascendancy of Pupilship— the historic apprenticeship process that began in the Renaissance, where the master hands down his craft to his students, and so on and so on…All creatives or artists are connected. Sometimes six degrees of separation is involved but the connection holds.
One way or another you found your way to me, and today, I’m sharing the glory of Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC. If you’re meant to read it, you will. My guess is when you do, then and only then will the reason be disclosed to you. And when it is you will also feel your heart crack open to receive the light. Or perhaps, you’re only meant to receive this information in order to pass it on to someone else because that’s how BIG MAGIC works with an air of mystery and intrigue.