Creativity: it’s not that big a deal…and that’s why it’s awesome!

I’m gonna get a little kumbaya and quote some Elizabeth Gilbert, namely from an interview with Radio National’s Book and Arts promoting her latest book, Big Magic. Admittedly, I haven’t read her books (I tend to jump onto the hype wagon pretty late) but I’ve always enjoyed listening to her interviews. There’s just something compelling and mellifluous about her voice that encourages you to absorb it all in.

Here, she has some interesting things to say about creativity and the arts that I felt really hit home with me:

A contract with creativity

“I will never ask you to support me financially; I will always support you financially. You are creativity, you don’t know what my gas bill means, you don’t know what rent is. You don’t need to know what those things are, those are worldly concerns. I will take care of the worldly concerns. You, creativity, take care of igniting my soul. That’s our contract.”

“Everything matters more.”

“Everything is more important [than art]. We need clean water, we need better reproductive rights for women, we have food insecurity, we have global warming. Everything matters more. The reason the arts is so delicious is because they don’t matter. Because it’s one of the few things that we have in this world where the consequences are so slight that you can actually play, that you can goof around, and that you can fail.”

“We get really dramatic about the work that we make but it’s just decoration, it’s just superfluous, and that’s why you can love it safely. And that’s why it’s nothing to kill yourself over. Really. Take it seriously, yes, but don’t take it seriously.”

Writers are often anxious of creativity, and we don’t have to be. Certainly, some of us depend on it for our livelihoods, but I think remembering it’s a path we freely chose and that it doesn’t have to be a big deal is quite liberating.

(You can also listen to Elizabeth’s Big Magic podcast, which expounds on similar themes and thoughts from the book.)