Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Big Magic

I promised a report on the talk I attended in London by Elizabeth Gilbert. She was being interviewed about her latest book, Big Magic.

The things that stuck in my mind from the talk were:

She believes that ideas have their own consciousness and are waiting for the right partner to bring them into the world. – This ties in with the feeling I often have when I'm writing that the story is being downloaded from somewhere beyond myself.

Keep one foot in the real world and one with the fairies so that you push the boundaries and explore ideas that other people say won't work.

It's fine if people have a contrary opinion to yourself, but exercise caution when reading reviews of your work. Don't expose yourself to hatred and maliciousness. Reading reviews can be like eating a sandwich with broken glass in it.

Be wary of showing your work to others in the early stages in case negative opinion kills the idea stone dead.

Creativity doesn't have to be for anything apart from you feeling like exploring it. It doesn't have to be serious. Lose your distrust of pleasure and save guilt for when you've done something really wrong.

Write an idea in different ways, play with it and liberate it from format.

Elizabeth Gilbert on stage

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote her best selling novel, Eat, Pray, Love when she was depressed. She believes that depression, anxiety and despair can be an invitation for creative thinking. Experiment until you find the doorway. Examine yourself and your life until you find something right, cells of light, then add to these..

Write a letter to your fear.

If you want to be creative you have to make room for it, start saying no and give things up to find the space. Get real about the limits of your time and energy.

I found the question and answer session inspiring and reading Big Magic kept me going when I was flagging with my edits. A recommended read.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a fantastic 2016!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Nano Success and Weekend Away

I am feeling distinctly odd this week, having completed my NaNoWriMo 50,000 words written in November challenge at the weekend. I spent the whole of last month submerged in the English Civil War and had a thoroughly lovely time. I’ve been reading non-fiction books about the period and watching YouTube videos too.

I love the discipline of Nano and now have a first draft, albeit with outlines in some places. Once I’ve done Christmas – cards written, trees up and presents bought, I shall return to this manuscript and polish it to submit to the RNA for my New Writers’ Scheme critique.

I am particularly pleased at having reached the word count of the challenge, as in the middle I took a weekend out to go to London with a girlfriend. My husband works abroad and lives in hotels, so we used hotel points to have a room in a nice hotel in Park Lane.

The first evening was spent in Oxford Street, looking at the Christmas lights and Selfridges' windows, before joining the crowds at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. We had tickets for the ice sculptures, but hadn’t bargained for how cold the marquee where they were housed would be. You got free hand warmers on the way out, as it was 8 in there.

Ice Sculpture
One of the Winter Wonderland rides
The next morning we headed to Kensington Palace. It was a gorgeous morning for November. We wanted to see the exhibition of the Queen’s, Princess Margaret’s and Diana’s dresses. We both had the same emotional reaction before going into the room containing Diana’s dresses. My vision was misted for a while. The dresses were beautiful with intricate beading and embroidery.

That evening we bused into Westminster and took photos of the lights, before the whole reason for going to London in the first place – a talk by Elizabeth Gilbert about creativity and her new book on the subject Big Magic. I have loved her work since I read Eat, Pray, Love. (I’ve since reread this book four times!). It was a sell-out event and well worth going to see Elizabeth in person.

Elizabeth Gilbert
We caught the train home the next day, tired but elated.

I’ll post about the talk soon. Which book have you read more than once?