Guest Review: Todd Skaggs on Big Magic

Before we get too deep into this thing, I want to start by thanking Violet for giving me the keys to the blog. I had to sign an insurance waiver, promise I wouldn’t crash it, and something about getting her a Starbucks gift card, but here we are all the same.

I’m going to talk a little bit about “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know Violet already reviewed it (and in fact, she was the one that told me I needed to read it, if I remember correctly).

So, for the awesome VP review, you should definitely check out that post.  I’m going to talk about the other side of it. No, not Little Science. Although, I am going to write that down, because it would be a cool counter-point book to the big magic, excuse me, Big Magic, that Ms. Gilbert talks about in her book.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. If you are one of those readers of the When Harry Met Sally variety and you read the end of the book first, you will get a summary of every point that Gilbert covers in her book. All there, nice and tidy for you in nine succinct sentences.

I warn you, however, do not  think that is all that there is to the book.

The meat and potatoes of this book comes not from the assertions made about the forces of creativity and inspiration in our lives. No, the real richness of this book comes from how Gilbert lays bare the parts in her life where the events happening could be nothing other than Big Magic.

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As a new author, I have read countless books on finding your voice, finding your muse, and about a dozen other titles designed to make you feel that you are in some small way doing it completely wrong if you do not ascribe to the divine text which lies between the covers you are holding.

Elizabeth Gilbert appears set to follow a similar course at first blush. And then about halfway through the book, something happened. It was a shift. I stopped seeing her examples as gospel and started seeing the things in my life that could easily be covered by the umbrella of Big Magic.

It was fascinating.

Then came the nuggets that just resonated with me on very nearly a spiritual level.

Keep Your Day Job, she said.  Don’t put the pressure on your creativity and inspiration to force it to finance your life. Work the day job, so that your creativity and inspiration are unencumbered and free to meet you where you are.

Don’t Call Your Writing Your Baby was the next thing that struck me. My daughter is the center of my universe. My life changed in ways I could never hope to express the day I first held her.  If someone told me that I had to alter 25% of her to make her presentable to the world, I would tell them to piss right off in a heartbeat. Nor could I give her up and let her loose in the world with the knowledge that she would never again be my baby. Not on your life. My daughter is my baby girl. At twenty-three she is still my little pumpkin girl.  My writing is my writing. Like it or don’t, that’s on you. I like it, or I wouldn’t be sharing it with you, but it is in no way as precious to me as my child.  And it never will be.

And the last nugget that hit me squarely in the third eye was the knowledge that I didn’t have to play the tortured artist role. There is nothing in the inherent nature of creativity and inspiration that is meant to cause us pain. We may take the pain and events of our life and exorcise those demons through our creative outlets-whatever they may be-but the process of creating should in no way be torturous in and of itself.

If you are a creative person, not necessarily a writer, but someone who enters in to that dance with inspiration and sings duets with the creativity flowing through the Universe, you owe it to yourself to read this book.

You may not find the bit of Big Magic that Elizabeth Gilbert talks about. Maybe you only find a little nugget of magic, as I did. And that’s fine. Because that little bit is big, too.

That’s the magic of it.

Catch up with Todd

Check out his blog, follow him on Twitter (@atskaggs71), maybe even stalk him on Instagram (also @atskaggs71)!

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