Note: This is the first of two parts.
Some books are aptly named. Like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. It brought about big magic for me.
My housemate Craig gave me the book as a birthday gift in November 2018.
“I thought you’d like it,” Craig told me. “It’s inspirational. It’s about writing.”
Inside my head, and with dripping sarcasm, I thought, “Great.”
I hadn’t been reading a whole lot, nor had I been doing any creative writing at that time. I’d been dealing for months with the shit of life.
I needed a dose of hope, and I also wanted to show Craig I appreciated the gift, so I cracked the book open at bedtime a few days after I pulled it out of the gift bag Craig borrowed from me for the occasion.
I was pretty instantly sucked in to Gilbert’s musings on creativity and the universe and how she thinks it all works.
Gilbert tells her readers that creative ideas go drifting by all of us. We have to be paying attention, watching for them, and when an idea resonates for you, you have to grab it fast and claim it as your own. If you don’t, anyone could snatch it away.
Gilbert also spends a fair amount of ink talking about the hundreds of excuses we invent to avoid acting on an idea. It’s not good enough, for instance. Or better yet, I’m not good enough. Or I don’t have the time.
Familiar excuses, those are. The latter phrase is the top excuse I pull out when people ask how a book is coming along; the other justifications are the ones I keep to myself.
So, I started thinking about all the book ideas that have come to me—ideas I grabbed from the universe, started nurturing, and abandoned mid-manuscript.
And then a new idea came to me. I would write a book for Jacques as a Christmas gift. It would be about how we met on Bumble and our first year together.
I reached out and heartily grabbed that very excellent idea. Mine. Mine. You can’t have it.
I flirted briefly with my excuses, but I suddenly found them dull and tiresome. I liked better the concept of trusting my idea and creating time for it.
I stopped binge watching Netflix episodes of “Better Call Saul” and “Shameless.” I stopped playing games on my phone for 45 minutes in the morning and before bed.
Instead, I kept reading Big Magic, taking in Gilbert’s anecdotes about other writers and how they self-motivate, and her narrative about her own tremendous perseverance and her accidental success with Eat, Pray, Love.
And I wrote, and I wrote, and I self-edited and I designed, and I was proud of my own perseverance in developing an actual memoir in under 30 days. I was excited about the gift I had for a man I loved.
“Awesome book,” I told Craig as we sat around the living room one night. “I’m loving Big Magic. It’s pushing me to act.”
About to pen another of his excellent cookbooks, Craig also appreciated Gilbert’s advice for writers and all creatives. “I thought you’d like it,” he said.
Jacques’ book was ready four days before Christmas—designed and printed in a spiral bind with a photo from our trip to Quebec City on the cover.
It’s called Bumbled. It is honest and raw at turns and laugh-out-loud funny at others. It is personal and an accurate reflection of our relationship thus far, as seen through my eyes.
Jacques read it in less than a week. He said it was the best gift he’d ever received. I told him the diamond earrings he gave me were likewise. (I had to grow bigger ears to bear the weight.)
I felt deeply satisfied with my minor accomplishment. Way more than if I’d gotten through the third season of “Shameless” or won a bunch more tokens in a Wordscapes tournament.
Way, way, way, way more.
My big magic didn’t end there, though.
It keeps growing bigger and bigger. Next time I’ll tell you about how the seed germinated and how tall it’s gotten already.
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