The Girl Booker

The Girl Booker

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Big Excitement for Big Magic

Oh irony! So this post has been sitting, unpublished, in my drafts for about 18 months... Here is is, in all its imperfect glory:

One of the reasons I started this blog was to keep a record of what I had read, but it soon became more than just a record-keep activity. One unexpected bonus was that I was sometimes able to get even more out of my reading experience, because I had to think more carefully about what I was reading. I discovered things about my thoughts and reached conclusions about the books that I otherwise wouldn't have. I didn’t really tell anyone much about the blog, so I was free to write and muse  to amuse myself. I have since found that, as more and more people read Girlbooker (at least two at last count!!!) I often become more and more worried about what the post will sound like, and worried that everything I have written on here is complete bullshit. Sometimes I prevaricate so much I don't even end up finishing the post. 

Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert) is the book to say “it doesn’t matter what other people think of your creations. Just create for yourself, for the sake of creating something”.  It can be really hard to remember that sort of thing when the whole damn world and it’s imaginary expectations are crowding in on you, which is why I would like to re-read this book every year or so. It was very freeing to let go of the baggage and think I could write something just for my own enjoyment. It inspired me to get amongst it all, and do something. In fact, it’s a good thing I had this blog ready to get into, or I may have unleashed some awkwardly realised craft on the world.  It may have involved found objects. It may have been clay and leather jewellery. It may have been an apple and onion tart. 

Aside from making me feel freshly excited about potential projects and other possibilities, I found the book a joy to read. Gilbert covers some really interesting territory. I don't agree with absolutely all of it, but I enjoyed reading about her point of view on things. I really like the way she talks about creative living as being work. Sometimes it is hard, sometimes it is even boring, and only sometimes is it wondrously inspiring. But if it is something you feel compelled to do, and it makes you feel better at the end of each day, then it is important. She also affirms that it is important even if you are the only person to see the finished product. It's about the process for the creator, not about the intended or eventual audience.

There are plenty of other big themes in the book, and I liked nearly all of them. The idea that creativity shouldn’t be expected to pay your rent is one. The idea that getting something out there even if it isn’t perfect is another. I feel like having read Big Magic gave me permission to have fun. It inspired me to get as creative as possible as often as possible. SO I may very well bake that apple and onion tart after all, and keep it to myself.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Perfect Book

There is something so deliciously satisfying about reading your way through a big, thick book, and enjoying every second of it. It's sort of like pigging out on chocolate, but with no stomachache afterwards. Iain Pears' Arcadia is one such book. I got so engrossed in the story that on a few occasions I lost a sense of time while reading. Because it is so big and heavy I generally only read it at home, but I made sure I carved out as much time as possible to read it. There are several story lines that one gradually begins to realise may or may not be connected to one another. Trying to work out how is part of the fun. The bottom line is: it is a fantastic yarn.

Despite the length and the multi-threaded narrative, it wasn't an especially dense or difficult book. It was huge amounts of fun, and I could see myself in my former bookseller life trying to sell it to pretty much every single person who walked into the shop looking for advice on what to read. Like sci fi and speculative fiction? Read Arcadia! After a beach read? Try Arcadia! Don't want anything too schmultzy? Arcadia, Arcadia, Arcadia!!!