I place a lot of importance on the first book I read each year.
(I’m not alone in this.)
I give a lot of thought to this choice. Some years, I start with a collection or two of poetry. Sometimes I need to be inspired or I’m looking for something to help me deal with my overhead compartment of baggage that I’m flying with through this life. Sometimes it’s a book related to a work or personal goal. It all depends on the year and what’s happening in my life when we start a new trip around the sun.
If, by some chance, you’re still searching for your first book and you’re a creative type, I’d like to recommend Big Magic: Creative Living Through Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I will admit that Big Magic isn’t my first book of 2016, but I wish it was because it would be perfect. One of my personal goals is to focus more on my own writing — the actual writing itself but also submitting more of my work to publications and pursuing creative opportunities that nurture that goal.
You may be thinking that Big Magic is just another gimmicky book about creativity and following your passion, the likes of which you’ve probably read before. And you also may be judging this based on perhaps a negative impression of Eat Pray Love or any other of Gilbert’s work. And you would be wrong on both counts. (I can say that because I did both of those things.)
Big Magic was refreshing because it was different from other books of this nature — you know, the ones that make you feel that you need to win a Powerball jackpot of $500 million in order to pursue a creative path in life, mortgages and student loans be damned.
(Don’t get me wrong. I could be very creative with $500 million, or even a portion thereof, in case any of you happen to be holding the golden ticket.)
Elizabeth Gilbert isn’t advocating that we creative types go into the office tomorrow and quit our jobs or commit to waking up every morning at 3 a.m. to write The Best Novel Ever or build a wing onto our house for the studio of our dreams. If you are able to do those things, more power to you. That’s not reality for most of us, however. And if we’re looking to our creativity to solve the bigger questions of our lives, we might be missing the point altogether.
Perhaps creativity’s greatest mercy is this: By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are. Best of all, at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir — something that you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration.
I really enjoyed this book and Elizabeth Gilbert’s direct and down-to-earth approach to creativity was exactly what I needed at the end of last year to make this one magical.
~ Melissa F.